Associations between basal metabolic rate and reproductive performance in C57BL/6J mice

Sarah Louise Johnston, Donna Souter, Susan Erwin, Bert J. Tolkamp, Jonathan Yearsley, Iain J. Gordon, Andrew W. Illius, Ilias Kyriazakis, John R. Speakman

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

50 Citations (Scopus)


Basal metabolic rate (BMR) is highly variable, both between and within species. One hypothesis is that this variation may be linked to the capacity for sustained rate of energy expenditure, leading to associations between high BMR and performance during energy- demanding periods of life history, such as reproduction. However, despite the attractive nature of this hypothesis, previous studies have failed to show an association between BMR and fecundity. Our approach was to mate 304 C57BL/6J mice and allow them to wean pups before measuring BMR by indirect calorimetry. We did not find an association between BMR and litter mass, size or pup mass at birth or weaning that could not be accounted for by the body mass of the dam. There was also no relationship between BMR (or BMR corrected for body mass) and birth or weaning success, losses during weaning, or sex ratio. However, a significant relationship was found between BMR and gestational weight loss indicative of foetal resorption. This suggests that during pregnancy the available energy may be limited and partitioned away from the growing foetus and towards maintenance of the mother. In this context, a high BMR may actually be disadvantageous, conflicting with the idea that high BMR may bring reproductive benefits.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)65-74
Number of pages10
JournalJournal of Experimental Biology
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - 1 Jan 2007


  • resource allocation
  • sustained metabolic rate
  • fecundity
  • mouse
  • BMR
  • aerobic capacity model
  • mus musculus
  • laboratory mice
  • sigmodon-hispidus
  • lactating mice
  • energy budgets
  • intraspecific variation
  • peromyscus-maniculatus
  • tenrecidae mammalia
  • oxygen-consumption


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