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Re: why larger?



In a message dated 97-02-17 23:49:04 EST, dunn1@idt.net (Larry) writes:

<< His question, I believe, was rhetorical.  If smallness is such a virtue, 
 why are those niches so "eminently fillable?" >>

Neither smallness nor largeness of itself is a virtue. A few ecological
niches exist for large animals; many more exist for small animals. When the
large animals have been eliminated in some kind of extinction event, it is
not long before some, most, or all of their niches become occupied by a new
generation of enlarged descendants of the small survivors.

By the way, I can't think of an extinction event in which small animals were
wiped out but large animals remained. Large animals are much more vulnerable
to rapid unfavorable environmental change than are small animals, on the
whole, although many small species may also be adversely affected. Perhaps
this is simply an artifact, that is, small species tend to survive extinction
events just because there are so many more of them?