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J Comp Physiol B. 2009 May;179(4):391-401. doi: 10.1007/s00360-008-0322-4. Epub 2008 Dec 12.

Age at first reproduction and growth rate are independent of basal metabolic rate in mammals.

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School of Biological and Conservation Sciences, University of KwaZulu-Natal, Private Bag X01, Scottsville, South Africa.


This study tested an emergent prediction from the Metabolic Theory of Ecology (MTE) that the age at first reproduction (alpha) of a mammal is proportional to the inverse of its mass-corrected basal metabolic rate: alpha proportional (B / M)-1 The hypothesis was tested with multiple regression models of conventional species data and phylogenetically independent contrasts of 121 mammal species. Since age at first reproduction is directly influenced by an individual's growth rate, the hypothesis that growth rate is proportional to BMR was also tested. Although the overall multiple regression model was significant, age at first reproduction was not partially correlated with either body mass, growth rate or BMR. Similarly, growth rate was not correlated with BMR. Thus at least for mammals in general, there is no evidence to support the fundamental premise of the MTE that individual metabolism governs the rate at which energy is converted to growth and reproduction at the species level. The exponents of the BMR allometry calculated using phylogenetic generalized least squares regression models were significantly lower than the three-quarter value predicted by the MTE.

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