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Proc Biol Sci. 2014 Jan 8;281(1777):20132818. doi: 10.1098/rspb.2013.2818. Print 2014 Feb 22.

How body mass and lifestyle affect juvenile biomass production in placental mammals.

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School of Biological Sciences, University of Reading, , Reading, UK, Department of Biology, University of New Mexico, , Albuquerque, NM, USA, Santa Fe Institute, , Santa Fe, NM, USA.


In mammals, the mass-specific rate of biomass production during gestation and lactation, here called maternal productivity, has been shown to vary with body size and lifestyle. Metabolic theory predicts that post-weaning growth of offspring, here termed juvenile productivity, should be higher than maternal productivity, and juveniles of smaller species should be more productive than those of larger species. Furthermore because juveniles generally have similar lifestyles to their mothers, across species juvenile and maternal productivities should be correlated. We evaluated these predictions with data from 270 species of placental mammals in 14 taxonomic/lifestyle groups. All three predictions were supported. Lagomorphs, perissodactyls and artiodactyls were very productive both as juveniles and as mothers as expected from the abundance and reliability of their foods. Primates and bats were unproductive as juveniles and as mothers, as expected as an indirect consequence of their low predation risk and consequent low mortality. Our results point the way to a mechanistic explanation for the suite of correlated life-history traits that has been called the slow-fast continuum.


allometry; life history; metabolic ecology; scaling; slow–fast continuum

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