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J Exp Biol. 2013 Dec 15;216(Pt 24):4712-21. doi: 10.1242/jeb.088914. Epub 2013 Sep 12.

Phylogenetic analysis of mammalian maximal oxygen consumption during exercise.

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  • 1Department of Biology, University of California, Riverside, CA 92521, USA.


We compiled published values of mammalian maximum oxygen consumption during exercise ( ) and supplemented these data with new measurements of for the largest rodent (capybara), 20 species of smaller-bodied rodents, two species of weasels and one small marsupial. Many of the new data were obtained with running-wheel respirometers instead of the treadmill systems used in most previous measurements of mammalian . We used both conventional and phylogenetically informed allometric regression models to analyze of 77 'species' (including subspecies or separate populations within species) in relation to body size, phylogeny, diet and measurement method. Both body mass and allometrically mass-corrected showed highly significant phylogenetic signals (i.e. related species tended to resemble each other). The Akaike information criterion corrected for sample size was used to compare 27 candidate models predicting (all of which included body mass). In addition to mass, the two best-fitting models (cumulative Akaike weight=0.93) included dummy variables coding for three species previously shown to have high (pronghorn, horse and a bat), and incorporated a transformation of the phylogenetic branch lengths under an Ornstein-Uhlenbeck model of residual variation (thus indicating phylogenetic signal in the residuals). We found no statistical difference between wheel- and treadmill-elicited values, and diet had no predictive ability for . Averaged across all models, the allometric scaling exponent was 0.839, with 95% confidence limits of 0.795 and 0.883, which does not provide support for a scaling exponent of 0.67, 0.75 or unity.


VO2max; allometry; comparative method; exercise; locomotion; mammals; maximum oxygen consumption; phylogeny

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