Scientific Correspondence | Published:

Polar gigantism dictated by oxygen availability

Naturevolume 399pages114115 (1999) | Download Citation



The tendency of some animals to be larger at higher latitudes (‘polar gigantism’) has not been explained, although it has often been attributed to low temperature and metabolism1. Investigation of gigantism requires widely distributed taxa with extensive species representation at many well-studied sites. We have analysed length data for 1,853 species of benthic amphipod crustaceans from 12 sites worldwide, from polar to tropical and marine (continental shelf) to freshwater environments. We find that maximum potential size (MPS) is limited by oxygen availability.

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  1. Institut Royal des Sciences Naturelles de Bruxelles, Rue Vautier 29, Bruxelles, B-1000, Belgium

    • Gauthier Chapelle
  2. British Antarctic Survey, High Cross, Madingley Road, Cambridge, CB3 0ET, UK

    • Lloyd S. Peck


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