Body-size distributions of organisms across environments in space and time are a powerful source of information on ecological and evolutionary processes. However, most studies only focus on selected parameters of size distributions (e.g., central tendency or extremes) and rarely take into account entire distributions and how they are affected by the collection style and facies. Here we analyze the impact of facies, region, taxonomy, and collection style over size distributions using diameter as a proxy of Late Devonian ammonoids in their entirety using non-metric multidimensional scaling and PERMANOVA based on Kolmogorov distance. The effects are then compared with effects on mean sizes. In all analyses, lithology was the dominant effect, with sizes greater by 59% in marls and by 33% in limestones, as compared to black shales. The effect of complete sampling style was a decrease in size by 11%. Kurtosis was an important parameter differentiating size distributions, with platykurtic distributions in marls and leptokurtic distributions in limestones, suggesting that this parameter may reflect different degrees of time averaging. Most size distributions were positively skewed, but most strongly in marls. Complete sampling led to skewness values close to zero (symmetrical distributions) and high kurtosis.

Samples from higher paleolatitudes were on average smaller, but contained outliers with the largest sizes, highlighting the need to analyze entire distributions. Lithology and collection differences need to be accounted for when evaluating size differences across space (polar gigantism) and time (Lilliput effect). Similarly, differences in facies may affect species determination.

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