Allometric estimation of metabolic rates in animals

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Abstract

The relationship between body mass (M) and metabolic rate (MR) typically accounts for most (>90%) of the inter-specific variation in MR. As such, when measurement of a species of interest is not possible, its MR can often be predicted using M. However, choosing an appropriate relationship to make such predictions is critical, and the choice is complicated by ongoing debate about the structure of the relationship between M and MR. The present study examines a range of methods including ordinary least squares (OLS), reduced major axis (RMA), and phylogenetically-informed (PI) approaches for estimating log(MR) from log(M), as well as non-linear approaches for estimating the relationship between MR and M without the need for log-transformation. Using data for the basal metabolic rates of mammals, it is shown that RMA regression overestimates the scaling exponent of MR (b, where MR=aMb), suggesting that OLS regression is appropriate for these data. PI approaches are preferred over non-PI ones, and the best estimates of log(MR) are obtained by including information on body temperature, climate, habitat, island endemism, and use of torpor in addition to log(M). However, the use of log-transformed data introduces bias into estimates of MR, while the use of non-linear regression underestimates MR for small mammals. This suggests that no single relationship is appropriate for describing the relationship between MR and M for all mammals, and that relationships for more narrow taxonomic groups or body mass ranges should be used when predicting MR from M.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)346-357
Number of pages12
JournalComparative Biochemistry and Physiology Part A: Molecular and Integrative Physiology
Volume158
Issue number3
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - 2011
Externally publishedYes

Keywords

  • Independent contrasts
  • Mammals
  • Metabolism
  • Ordinary least squares
  • Reduced major axis
  • Scaling

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