Animal body size distributions: patterns, mechanisms and implications

Trends Ecol Evol. 1994 Dec;9(12):471-4. doi: 10.1016/0169-5347(94)90311-5.


Documenting the shape of the frequency distribution of species body sizes for an animal taxon appears at first sight a straightforward task. However, a variety of patterns has been reported, and a consensus is only now being reached through an understanding of how potential biases may affect observed shapes of distributions. A new body of evidence suggests that, at large scales, size distributions are right-skewed, even on logarithmic axes. If body size distributions can be described with certainty, this will allow assessment of the mechanisms proposed to generate them, and will be an important step towards understanding the structure and dynamics of animal assemblages.