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Am Nat. 2010 Aug;176(2):227-33. doi: 10.1086/653662.

Erroneous Arrhenius: modified arrhenius model best explains the temperature dependence of ectotherm fitness.

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Department of Ecology and Evolutionary Biology, Brown University, Providence, Rhode Island 02912, USA.


The initial rise of fitness that occurs with increasing temperature is attributed to Arrhenius kinetics, in which rates of reaction increase exponentially with increasing temperature. Models based on Arrhenius typically assume single rate-limiting reactions over some physiological temperature range for which all the rate-limiting enzymes are in 100% active conformation. We test this assumption using data sets for microbes that have measurements of fitness (intrinsic rate of population growth) at many temperatures and over a broad temperature range and for diverse ectotherms that have measurements at fewer temperatures. When measurements are available at many temperatures, strictly Arrhenius kinetics are rejected over the physiological temperature range. However, over a narrower temperature range, we cannot reject strictly Arrhenius kinetics. The temperature range also affects estimates of the temperature dependence of fitness. These results indicate that Arrhenius kinetics only apply over a narrow range of temperatures for ectotherms, complicating attempts to identify general patterns of temperature dependence.

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