Weevils having fun at Lerderderg State Forest

Ontogenetic and interspecific metabolic scaling in insects


Design constraints imposed by increasing size cause metabolic rate in animals to increase more slowly than mass. This ubiquitous biological phenomenon is referred to as metabolic scaling. Mechanistic explanations for interspecific metabolic scaling do not apply for ontogenetic size changes within a species implying different mechanisms for scaling phenomena. Here we show that the Dynamic Energy Budget theory approach of compartmentalizing biomass into reserve and structural components provides a unified framework for understanding ontogenetic and inter-specific metabolic scaling. We formulate the theory for the insects and show that it can account for ontogenetic metabolic scaling during the embryonic and larval phases, as well as the U-shaped respiration curve during pupation. After correcting for the predicted ontogenetic scaling effects, which we show to follow universal curves, the scaling of respiration between species is approximated by a ¾ power law, supporting our theoretical predictions and past empirical studies on insect metabolic scaling. The ability to explain ontogenetic and interspecific metabolic scaling effects under one consistent framework suggests that the partitioning of biomass into reserve and structure is a necessary foundation to a general metabolic theory.

In American Naturalist

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