Nutrigonometry I: using right-angle triangles to quantify nutritional trade-offs in performance landscapes

Juliano Morimoto Borges* (Corresponding Author), Pedro Conceicao, Christen Mirth, Mathieu Lihoreau

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Animals regulate their diet in order to maximise the expression of fitness traits that often have different nutritional needs. These nutritional trade-offs have been experimentally uncovered using the Geometric framework for nutrition (GF). However, current analytical methods to measure such responses rely on either visual inspection or complex models applied to multidimensional performance landscapes, making these approaches subjective, or conceptually difficult, computationally expensive, and in some cases inaccurate. This limits our ability to understand how animal nutrition evolved to support life-histories within and between species. Here, we introduce a simple trigonometric model to measure nutritional trade-offs in multidimensional landscapes (‘Nutrigonometry’). Nutrigonometry is both conceptually and computationally easier than current approaches, as it harnesses the trigonometric relationships of right-angle triangles instead of vector calculations. Using landmark GF datasets, we first show how polynomial (Bayesian) regressions can be used for precise and accurate predictions of peaks and valleys in performance landscapes, irrespective of the underlying structure of the data (i.e., individual food intakes vs fixed diet ratios). Using trigonometric relationships, we then identified the known nutritional trade-off between lifespan and reproductive rate both in terms of nutrient balance and concentration. Nutrigonometry enables a fast, reliable and reproducible quantification of nutritional trade-offs in multidimensional performance landscapes, thereby broadening the potential for future developments in comparative research on the evolution of animal nutrition
Original languageEnglish
JournalThe American Naturalist
Publication statusAccepted/In press - 9 Dec 2022


  • Nutritional Geometry
  • trigonometry
  • lifespan-reproduction trade-of
  • fitness maps


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