Measuring metabolic rate in the field: the pros and cons of the doubly labelled water and heart rate methods

P J Butler, J A Green, I L Boyd, J R Speakman

Research output: Contribution to journalLiterature review

258 Citations (Scopus)

Abstract

1. Measuring the metabolic rate of animals in the field (FMR) is central to the work of ecologists in many disciplines. In this article we discuss the pros and cons of the two most commonly used methods for measuring FMR.

2. Both methods are constantly under development, but at the present time can only accurately be used to estimate the mean rate of energy expenditure of groups of animals. The doubly labelled water method (DLW) uses stable isotopes of hydrogen and oxygen to trace the flow of water and carbon dioxide through the body over time. From these data, it is possible to derive a single estimate of the rate of oxygen consumption ((V) over dot (o2)) for the duration of the experiment. The duration of the experiment will depend on the rate of flow of isotopes of oxygen and hydrogen through the body, which in turn depends on the animal's size, ranging from 24 h for small vertebrates to up to 28 days in Humans.

3. This technique has been used widely, partly as a result of its relative simplicity and potential low cost, though there is some uncertainty over the determination of the standard error of the estimate of mean (V) over dot (o2).

4. The heart rate (f(H)) method depends on the physiological relationship between heart rate and .

5. If these two quantities are calibrated against each other under controlled conditions, f(H) can then be measured in free-ranging animals and used to estimate (V) over dot (o2).

6. The latest generation of small implantable data loggers means that it is possible to measure f(H) for over a year on a very fine temporal scale, though the current size of the data loggers limits the size of experimental animals to around 1 kg. However, externally mounted radio-transmitters are now sufficiently small to be used with animals of less than 40 g body mass. This technique is gaining in popularity owing to its high accuracy and versatility, though the logistic constraint of performing calibrations can make its use a relatively extended process.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)168-183
Number of pages16
JournalFunctional Ecology
Volume18
Publication statusPublished - 2004

Keywords

  • accuracy
  • field metabolic rate
  • precision
  • BLACK-BROWED ALBATROSSES
  • DAILY ENERGY-EXPENDITURE
  • GEESE BRANTA-LEUCOPSIS
  • CALIFORNIA SEA LIONS
  • ANTARCTIC FUR SEALS
  • ESOX-LUCIUS L
  • OXYGEN-CONSUMPTION
  • CO2 PRODUCTION
  • MACARONI PENGUINS
  • BODY-TEMPERATURE

Cite this

Measuring metabolic rate in the field: the pros and cons of the doubly labelled water and heart rate methods. / Butler, P J ; Green, J A ; Boyd, I L ; Speakman, J R .

In: Functional Ecology, Vol. 18, 2004, p. 168-183.

Research output: Contribution to journalLiterature review

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AU - Butler, P J

AU - Green, J A

AU - Boyd, I L

AU - Speakman, J R

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N2 - 1. Measuring the metabolic rate of animals in the field (FMR) is central to the work of ecologists in many disciplines. In this article we discuss the pros and cons of the two most commonly used methods for measuring FMR.2. Both methods are constantly under development, but at the present time can only accurately be used to estimate the mean rate of energy expenditure of groups of animals. The doubly labelled water method (DLW) uses stable isotopes of hydrogen and oxygen to trace the flow of water and carbon dioxide through the body over time. From these data, it is possible to derive a single estimate of the rate of oxygen consumption ((V) over dot (o2)) for the duration of the experiment. The duration of the experiment will depend on the rate of flow of isotopes of oxygen and hydrogen through the body, which in turn depends on the animal's size, ranging from 24 h for small vertebrates to up to 28 days in Humans.3. This technique has been used widely, partly as a result of its relative simplicity and potential low cost, though there is some uncertainty over the determination of the standard error of the estimate of mean (V) over dot (o2).4. The heart rate (f(H)) method depends on the physiological relationship between heart rate and .5. If these two quantities are calibrated against each other under controlled conditions, f(H) can then be measured in free-ranging animals and used to estimate (V) over dot (o2).6. The latest generation of small implantable data loggers means that it is possible to measure f(H) for over a year on a very fine temporal scale, though the current size of the data loggers limits the size of experimental animals to around 1 kg. However, externally mounted radio-transmitters are now sufficiently small to be used with animals of less than 40 g body mass. This technique is gaining in popularity owing to its high accuracy and versatility, though the logistic constraint of performing calibrations can make its use a relatively extended process.

AB - 1. Measuring the metabolic rate of animals in the field (FMR) is central to the work of ecologists in many disciplines. In this article we discuss the pros and cons of the two most commonly used methods for measuring FMR.2. Both methods are constantly under development, but at the present time can only accurately be used to estimate the mean rate of energy expenditure of groups of animals. The doubly labelled water method (DLW) uses stable isotopes of hydrogen and oxygen to trace the flow of water and carbon dioxide through the body over time. From these data, it is possible to derive a single estimate of the rate of oxygen consumption ((V) over dot (o2)) for the duration of the experiment. The duration of the experiment will depend on the rate of flow of isotopes of oxygen and hydrogen through the body, which in turn depends on the animal's size, ranging from 24 h for small vertebrates to up to 28 days in Humans.3. This technique has been used widely, partly as a result of its relative simplicity and potential low cost, though there is some uncertainty over the determination of the standard error of the estimate of mean (V) over dot (o2).4. The heart rate (f(H)) method depends on the physiological relationship between heart rate and .5. If these two quantities are calibrated against each other under controlled conditions, f(H) can then be measured in free-ranging animals and used to estimate (V) over dot (o2).6. The latest generation of small implantable data loggers means that it is possible to measure f(H) for over a year on a very fine temporal scale, though the current size of the data loggers limits the size of experimental animals to around 1 kg. However, externally mounted radio-transmitters are now sufficiently small to be used with animals of less than 40 g body mass. This technique is gaining in popularity owing to its high accuracy and versatility, though the logistic constraint of performing calibrations can make its use a relatively extended process.

KW - accuracy

KW - field metabolic rate

KW - precision

KW - BLACK-BROWED ALBATROSSES

KW - DAILY ENERGY-EXPENDITURE

KW - GEESE BRANTA-LEUCOPSIS

KW - CALIFORNIA SEA LIONS

KW - ANTARCTIC FUR SEALS

KW - ESOX-LUCIUS L

KW - OXYGEN-CONSUMPTION

KW - CO2 PRODUCTION

KW - MACARONI PENGUINS

KW - BODY-TEMPERATURE

M3 - Literature review

VL - 18

SP - 168

EP - 183

JO - Functional Ecology

JF - Functional Ecology

SN - 0269-8463

ER -