Limits to sustained energy intake XII: is the poor relation between resting metabolic rate and reproductive performance because resting metabolism is not a repeatable trait?

Luiza Carla Duarte, Lobke Maria Vaanholt, Rachel Sinclair, Yuko Gamo, John Roger Speakman

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Many studies have investigated the consequences of individual variation in resting metabolic rate at thermoneutrality (RMRt) on reproductive performance. Despite strong theoretical reasons for expecting such an association, results have generally been disappointing. A fundamental assumption of these studies is that RMRt is a repeatable trait. We examined repeatability of RMRt in female MF1 mice over short (15 days apart; N=238) and long intervals (110 days apart; N=33). In the long-term experiment, after the first RMRt measurement, females were separated in two groups: the first was kept virgin (N=16); the second was allowed to breed (N=17) and measured 15 days after they had weaned their pups. We also examined the association between RMRt and reproduction. We used Pearson's correlation (r) and intraclass correlation coefficients (rho) to estimate repeatability. There was a strong effect of body mass on RMRt for all measurements. Over the short interval, repeatability was significant for body mass (r=0.86; rho=0.86), RMRt (r=0.68; rho=0.68,) and residual-RMRt (r=0.58; rho=0.58). Over long intervals, repeatability of residual-RMRt was high in virgin females (r=0.59; rho=0.60), but not in the breeders (r=0.38; rho=0.39); body mass was repeatable only for non-breeders measured by r (r=0.55). There was no significant correlation between RMRt or residual-RMRt and litter size or litter mass. In conclusion, RMRt and residual-RMRt are highly repeatable traits in virgin MF1 female mice. The lack of association between non-reproductive RMRt and reproductive performance in MF1 mice does not come about because of its poor repeatability.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)278-87
Number of pages10
JournalJournal of Experimental Biology
Issue number2
Publication statusPublished - 1 Jan 2010



  • animals
  • basal metabolism
  • body weight
  • female
  • litter size
  • mice
  • pregnancy
  • reproduction
  • mus musculus
  • repetability
  • resting metabolic rate
  • mouse
  • reproductive performance

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