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Community Organization in Hummingbirds: Relationships between Morphology and Ecology

James H. Brown and Michael A. Bowers
The Auk
Vol. 102, No. 2 (Apr., 1985), pp. 251-269
DOI: 10.2307/4086767
Stable URL: http://www.jstor.org/stable/4086767
Page Count: 19
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Since scans are not currently available to screen readers, please contact JSTOR User Support for access. We'll provide a PDF copy for your screen reader.
Community Organization in Hummingbirds: Relationships between Morphology and Ecology
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Abstract

Hummingbird species inhabitating restricted geographic regions exhibit morphological patterns that differ significantly from those predicted by null models in which species are selected at random from appropriate species pools. Temperate North American hummingbirds are convergent: more similar in bill length, body weight, and wing length than predicted by several null models. These temperate species also are more similar to each other than they are to more closely related (congeneric) species from subtropical and tropical habitats. Hummingbirds of the Greater and Lesser Antilles show a nonrandom distribution of species among islands: all islands inhabitated by hummingbirds have at least two species, and these fall into two distinctly different size categories. Allometric scaling of bill length with respect to body mass is distinctive in Antillean hummingbirds; bill length increases more rapidly with increasing body weight in West Indian hummingbirds than in random samples of hummingbirds of the world or in other birds. These morphological patterns appear to reflect two ecological processes: interspecific competition among hummingbirds and mutualistic coevolution with flowers. Hummingbird species of similar morphology use similar floral resources but rarely coexist in the same local areas. Species of divergent morphology exploit different food resources and frequently coexist locally. Length of the bill, which influences access to different kinds of flowers, is particularly important in the organization of these simple hummingbird associations.

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