Body shape shifting during growth permits tests that distinguish between competing geometric theories of metabolic scaling

Andrew G. Hirst, Douglas S. Glazier, David Atkinson, Dustin Marshall

Research output: Contribution to journalJournal articleResearchpeer-review

Abstract

Metabolism fuels all of life’s activities, from biochemical reactions to ecological interactions. According to two intensely debated theories, body size affects metabolism via geometrical influences on the transport of resources and wastes. However, these theories differ crucially in whether the size dependence of metabolism is derived from material transport across external surfaces, or
through internal resource-transport networks. We show that when body shape changes during growth, these models make opposing predictions. These models are tested using pelagic invertebrates, because these animals exhibit highly variable intraspecific scaling relationships for metabolic rate and body shape. Metabolic scaling slopes of diverse integument-breathing species were
significantly positively correlated with degree of body flattening or elongation during ontogeny, as expected from surface area theory, but contradicting the negative correlations predicted by resource-transport network models. This finding explains strong deviations from predictions of widely adopted theory, and underpins a new explanation for mass-invariant metabolic scaling during
ontogeny in animals and plants
Original languageEnglish
JournalEcology Letters
Volume17
Issue number10
Pages (from-to)1274-1281
ISSN1461-023X
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - 2014

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