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Encyclopedia > Foster's rule

Foster's rule (also known as the "island rule") is a principle in evolutionary biology stating that members of a species will get smaller or bigger depending on the resources available in the environment. This is the core of the study of island biogeography. For example, it is known that pygmy mammoths evolved from normal mammoths on small islands. Similar evolutionary paths have been observed in elephants, hippopotamuses, boas and humans. This article is about biological evolution. ... In biology, a species is a kind of organism. ... The study of island biogeography is a field within biogeography that attempts to establish and explain the factors that affect the species diversity of a particular community. ... This article is about the extinct mammal. ... Genera and Species Loxodonta Loxodonta cyclotis Loxodonta africana Elephas Elephas maximus Proboscidea is an order including only one extant family, Elephantidae or the elephants, with three species: the Savannah Elephant and Forest Elephant (which were collectively known as the African Elephant), and the Asian Elephant (formerly known as the Indian... Binomial name Hippopotamus amphibius Linnaeus, 1758 The Hippopotamus (Hippopotamus amphibius) or Greek ἵππόποταμος (river horse) is a large, plant-eating African mammal, one of only two living and three (or four) recently extinct species in the family Hippopotamidae. ... BoA (born November 5, 1986 in Guri, Gyeonggi province) is a Korean pop singer. ... Human beings are defined variously in biological, spiritual, and cultural terms, or in combinations thereof. ...

It was first stated by J. Bristol Foster in 1964 in the journal Nature, in an article titled "The evolution of mammals on islands". In it, he studied 116 island species and compared them to their mainland varieties. He proposed that certain island creatures evolved into larger versions of themselves while others into smaller versions of themselves. For this, he proposed the simple explanation that smaller creatures got larger in the absence of so many predators that they had been used to on the mainland and larger creatures get smaller with the absence of food sources. 1964 was a leap year starting on Wednesday (link will take you to calendar). ... Nature is one of the oldest and most reputable general-purpose scientific journals, first published on November 4, 1869. ...

Later that idea was expanded upon by the publication of The Theory of Island Biogeography, by Robert MacArthur and Edward O. Wilson. And in 1978, Ted J. Case published a much longer and more complex paper on the topic in the journal Ecology. Case also demonstrated that Foster's original conjecture of why all this happened was not completely true and was oversimplified. E.O. Wilson with Dynastes hercules E. O. Wilson, or Edward Osborne Wilson, (born June 10, 1929) is an entomologist and biologist known for his work on ecology, evolution, and sociobiology. ... Events January January 1 - The Copyright Act of 1976 takes effect, making sweeping changes to United States copyright law. ...


  • Foster, J. B. (1964) The evolution of mammals on islands. Nature 202, 234 235.
  • Case, T. J. (1978) A general explanation for insular body size trends in terrestrial vertebrates. Ecology, 59, 1-18.

See also

  • Homo floresiensis

Binomial name Homo floresiensis P. Brown , 2004 Homo floresiensis (Man of Flores) is a newly described species in the genus Homo, remarkable for its small body, small brain, and recent survival. ...

External links

  • Why Do Islands Breed Giants (And Sometimes Dwarfs)? (http://www.pbs.org/wgbh/nova/eden/giants.html)



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