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Metabolic rate is negatively linked to adult survival but does not explain latitudinal differences in songbirds


Boyce, Andy et al. (2020), Metabolic rate is negatively linked to adult survival but does not explain latitudinal differences in songbirds, Dryad, Dataset,


Survival rates vary dramatically among species and predictably across latitudes, but causes of this variation are unclear. The rate of living hypothesis posits that physiological damage from metabolism causes species with faster metabolic rates to exhibit lower survival rates. However, whether increased survival commonly observed in tropical and south temperate latitudes is associated with slower metabolic rate remains unclear. We compared metabolic rates and annual survival rates across 46 species that we measured, and 147 species from literature data across northern, southern, and tropical latitudes. High metabolic rates were associated with lower survival but latitude had substantial direct effects on survival independent of metabolism. The inability of metabolic rate to explain latitudinal variation in survival suggests 1) that species may evolve physiological mechanisms that mitigate physiological damage from cellular metabolism, and 2) a larger role of extrinsic environmental, rather than intrinsic metabolic, causes of latitudinal differences in mortality.


Metabolic data in our field dataset were collected via respiromtery. Adult survival data were collected via several consecutive years of mark-recapture-resight protocols and cormack-jolly-seber models. 

Usage Notes

These datasets include

a) RMR and adult survival proability data collected by the authors at sites in Sabah, Malaysia, Western Cape, South Africa, and the Coconino National Forest, Arizona, USA. 

b) BMR and adult survival probability data compiled from the literature across all songbirds. 


National Science Foundation, Award: DEB-1241041

American Ornithological Society, Award: Graduate Student Research Grant

National Science Foundation, Award: DEB-1651283

National Science Foundation, Award: IOS-1656120

National Science Foundation, Award: IOS-1122228