Ecogeographical patterns of body size differ among North American paper wasp species.
Species with widespread distributions frequently show clines in body size across broad geographic areas. These clines may be the result of "ecogeographical rules" that describe spatial patterns of phenotypic differences driven by environmental variation. Intraspecific variation in body size, and the mechanisms causing this variation, have been poorly described in social wasps. This study examined ecogeographical patterns of body size for 12 native species and one non-native species of North American paper wasps (genus: Polistes) using body size measurements from > 14,000 pinned museum specimens. Intraspecific body size was correlated with latitude, elevation, and broadscale climate variation. However, the direction of this relationship was idiosyncratic across species, with Bergmann's clines and converse Bergmann's clines equally represented. There was no evidence of a phylogenetic signal in the direction of the cline between body size and the environment. Within species, the worker caste and the reproductive caste showed the same direction of response between body size and latitude, although for most species the reproductive caste was larger than the worker caste. Intraspecific variation in body size appears to be driven by differences in the response among species to similar environmental variables but the mechanisms causing this variation remain unknown.