New publication on mammals

Vole skins & skulls in vialsSchlis-Elias, M. C. & J. L. Malaney. 2022. Island biogeography predicts skull gigantism and shape variation in meadow voles (Microtus pennsylvanicus) through ecological release and allometry. Oikos 2022: e08777 pdf (doi: 10.1111/oik.08777).

The authors investigated the Island Rule (a pattern of gigantism in animal species on islands that are small-bodied on the mainland and dwarfism among island species that are large-bodied on the mainland) using meadow vole (Microtus pennsylvanicus) specimens from the UCONN BRC mammal skull collection. Schlis-Elias and Malaney used 21 dorsal cranium landmarks and 25 ventral cranium landmarks to quantify vole skull sizes in eleven island and three mainland populations in northern Atlantic and Pacific coastal regions. They did find strong evidence of the Island Rule in meadow voles: the smallest islands had the largest voles! This size disparity is related to ecological release: insular populations of meadow voles encounter few predators compared to their mainland counterparts.

All data from this paper are openly accessible and available on DRYAD (

In total, 31 UCONN M. pennsylvanicus specimens were used in this work and we are excited to continue our collaboration with the authors in their future research endeavors!