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The allometry of daily energy expenditure in hummingbirds: an energy budget approach

Cite this dataset

Shankar, Anusha; Powers, Donald R; Dávalos, Liliana M; Graham, Catherine H (2020). The allometry of daily energy expenditure in hummingbirds: an energy budget approach [Dataset]. Dryad.


1. Within-clade allometric relationships represent standard laws of scaling between energy and size, and their outliers provide new avenues for physiological and ecological research. According to the metabolic level boundaries hypothesis, metabolic rates as a function of mass are expected to scale closer to 0.67 when driven by surface-related processes (e.g., heat or water flux), while volume-related processes (e.g., activity) generate slopes closer to one. 2. In birds, daily energy expenditure (DEE) scales with body mass (M) in the relationship log⁡(DEE)=2.35+0.68log⁡(M), consistent with surface-level processes driving the relationship. However, taxon-specific patterns differ from the scaling slope of all birds. 3. Hummingbirds have the highest mass-specific metabolic rates among all vertebrates. Previous studies on a few hummingbird species, without accounting for the phylogeny, estimated that the DEE-body mass relationship for hummingbirds was log⁡(DEE) = 1.72+1.21log⁡(M). Contrary to theoretical expectations, this slope greater than 1 indicates that larger hummingbirds are less metabolically efficient than smaller hummingbirds. 4. We collected DEE and mass data for 12 hummingbird species, which, combined with published data, represented 17 hummingbird species in eight of nine hummingbird clades over a six-fold size range of body size (2.7 - 17.5 g). 5. After accounting for phylogenetic relatedness, we found daily energy expenditure scales with body mass as log⁡(DEE) = 2.04+0.95log⁡(M). This slope of 0.95 is lower than previously estimated for hummingbirds, but much higher than the slope for all birds (0.68). The high slopes of torpor, hovering and flight potentially explain the high interspecific DEE slope for hummingbirds compared to other endotherms. 08-Jan-2020


Doubly labeled water data compiled from this study and the literature (Powers & Nagy 1988, Weathers & Stiles 1991, Powers & Conley 1994,  Fernandez et al. 2011).

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National Aeronautics and Space Administration, Award: NNX11AO28G

Tinker Foundation

National Science Foundation, Award: DEB-1442142

National Science Foundation, Award: DEB-1838273

National Geographic Society, Award: 9506-14

Stony Brook University Department of Ecology & Evolution

European Research Council, Award: ADG number 787638

George Fox University, Award: GFU2014G02

Swiss Federal Research Institute (WSL)