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Data from: Spatial patterns in the size of Chinese lizards are driven by multiple factors

Cite this dataset

Liang, Tao et al. (2021). Data from: Spatial patterns in the size of Chinese lizards are driven by multiple factors [Dataset]. Dryad.


Background: For almost two centuries, ecologists examined geographical patterns in the evolution of body size and the associated determinants. During that time, one of the most common patterns to have emerged is the increase in body size with increasing latitude (referred to as Bergmann’s rule). Typically, this pattern is explained in terms of an evolutionary response that serves to minimize heat loss in colder climates, mostly in endotherms. In contrast, however, this rule rarely explains geographical patterns in the evolution of body size among ectotherms (e.g., reptiles).

Location: China

Aim: In this study, we assembled a dataset comprising the maximum sizes of 211 lizard species in China and examined the geographical patterns in body size evolution and its determinants. Specifically, we assessed the relationship between body size and climate among all lizard species and within four major groups at both assemblage and interspecific levels.

Results: Although we found that the body size of Chinese lizards was larger in warmer regions, we established that at the assemblage level, size was correlated with multiple climatic factors, and that body size–climate correlations differed within the four major groups. Phylogenetic analysis at the species level revealed that no single climatic factor was associated with body size, with the exception of agamids, for which size was found to be correlated with temperature.

Main conclusions: Geographical patterns in Chinese lizard body size are driven by multiple factors, and overall patterns are probably influenced by those of the major groups. We suggest that our analyses at two different levels may have contributed to the inconsistent results obtained in this study. Further studies investigating the effects of altitude and ecological factors are needed to gain a more comprehensive understanding of the evolution of ectotherm body size.


Data of Chinese lizard body size (Snout-vent length) were collected from published studies, wild and museum specimens.


Priority Academic Program Development of Jiangsu Higher Education Institutions

Graduate Research and Innovation Projects of Jiangsu Province