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Data from: The evolution of energetic scaling across the vertebrate tree of life

Cite this dataset

Uyeda, Josef Christensen et al. (2017). Data from: The evolution of energetic scaling across the vertebrate tree of life [Dataset]. Dryad.


Metabolism is the link between ecology and physiology—it dictates the flow of energy through individuals and across trophic levels. Much of the predictive power of metabolic theories of ecology derives from the scaling relationship between organismal size and metabolic rate. There is growing evidence that this scaling relationship is not universal, but we have little knowledge of how it has evolved over macroevolutionary time. Here we develop a novel phylogenetic comparative method to investigate how often and in which clades the macroevolutionary dynamics of the metabolic scaling have changed. We find strong evidence that the metabolic scaling relationship has shifted multiple times across the vertebrate phylogeny. However, shifts are rare and otherwise strongly constrained. Importantly, both the estimated slope and intercept values vary widely across regimes, with slopes that spanned across theoretically predicted values such as 2/3 or 3/4. We further tested whether traits such as ecto-/endothermy, genome size, and quadratic curvature with body mass (i.e., energetic constraints at extreme body sizes) could explain the observed pattern of shifts. Though these factors help explain some of the variation in scaling parameters, much of the remaining variation remains elusive. Our results lay the groundwork for further exploration of the evolutionary and ecological drivers of major transitions in metabolic strategy and for harnessing this information to improve macroecological predictions.

Usage notes


National Science Foundation, Award: DEB-1208912