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Am Nat. 2012 Jun;179(6):E172-9. doi: 10.1086/665646. Epub 2012 Apr 27.

Latitudinal patterns in rodent metabolic flexibility.

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Departamento de Ecología y Evolución, Facultad de Ciencias, Universidad de la República, Montevideo 11400, Uruguay.


Macrophysiology is defined as the study of variation in physiological traits-including physiological trait flexibility-over large geographical and temporal scales, and the ecological implications of this variation. A classic example of a macrophysiological trend is the one emerging from the climatic variability hypothesis, which states that as the range of climatic fluctuation experienced by terrestrial animals increases with latitude, individuals at higher latitudes should be more plastic than individuals inhabiting lower latitudes. In this context, we evaluate the correlation between absolute metabolic scope during cold exposure (an instantaneous measure of metabolic flexibility) and different geographic and climatic variables for 48 rodent species. Conventional and phylogenetic informed analyses indicated a positive correlation between metabolic scope and geographic latitude. These findings, together with previous reports on latitudinal pattern in phenotypic flexibility, suggest that an increase in physiological flexibility with latitude may hold for many phenotypic traits.

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