Basal metabolic rate and maternal energetic investment durations in mammals

Gabrielle Jackson, Arne O Mooers, Evgenia Dubman, Jenna Hutchen, Mark Collard

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Abstract

BACKGROUND: The Metabolic Theory of Ecology (MTE) predicts that gestation duration, lactation duration, and their sum, total development time, are constrained by mass-specific basal metabolic rate such that they should scale with body mass with an exponent of 0.25. However, tests of the MTE's predictions have yielded mixed results. In an effort to resolve this uncertainty, we used phylogenetically-controlled regression to investigate the allometries of gestation duration, lactation duration, and total development time in four well-studied mammalian orders, Artiodactyla, Carnivora, Primates, and Rodentia.

RESULTS: The results we obtained are not consistent with the predictions of the MTE. Gestation duration scaling exponents are below 0.25 in all four orders. The scaling exponent for lactation duration is below 0.25 in Carnivora and Rodentia, indistinguishable from 0.25 in Artiodactyls, and steeper than 0.25 in Primates. Total development time scales with body mass as predicted by the MTE in Primates, but not in artiodactyls, carnivores, and rodents. In the latter three orders, the exponent is 0.15.

CONCLUSIONS: Together, these results indicate that the influence of basal metabolic rate on mammalian maternal investment durations must be more complicated than the MTE envisages, and that other factors must play an important role. Future research needs to allow for the possibility that different factors drive gestation duration and lactation duration, and that the drivers of the two durations may differ among orders.

Original languageEnglish
Article number194
JournalBMC Evolutionary Biology
Volume14
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - 14 Sep 2014

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basal metabolic rate
lactation
pregnancy
lactation duration
mammal
energetics
primate
mammals
ecology
duration
body mass
Primates
Carnivora
Rodentia
allometry
carnivore
prediction
rodent
Artiodactyla
timescale

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Basal metabolic rate and maternal energetic investment durations in mammals. / Jackson, Gabrielle; Mooers, Arne O; Dubman, Evgenia; Hutchen, Jenna; Collard, Mark.

In: BMC Evolutionary Biology, Vol. 14, 194, 14.09.2014.

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

Jackson, Gabrielle ; Mooers, Arne O ; Dubman, Evgenia ; Hutchen, Jenna ; Collard, Mark. / Basal metabolic rate and maternal energetic investment durations in mammals. In: BMC Evolutionary Biology. 2014 ; Vol. 14.
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