Testing metabolic scaling theory using intraspecific allometries in Antarctic microarthropods

Quantitative scaling relationships among body mass, temperature and metabolic rate of organisms are still controversial, while resolution may be further complicated through the use of different and possibly inappropriate approaches to statistical analysis. We propose the application of a modelling strategy based on the theoretical approach of Akaike's information criteria and non-linear model fitting (nlm). Accordingly, we collated and modelled available data at intraspecific level on the individual standard metabolic rate of Antarctic microarthropods as a function of body mass (M), temperature (T), species identity (S) and high rank taxa to which species belong (G) and tested predictions from metabolic scaling theory (mass-metabolism allometric exponent b = 0.75, activation energy range 0.2–1.2 eV). We also performed allometric analysis based on logarithmic transformations (lm). Conclusions from lm and nlm approaches were different. Best-supported models from lm incorporated T, M and S. The estimates of the allometric scaling exponent linking body mass and metabolic rate resulted in a value of 0.696 ± 0.105 (mean ± 95% CI). In contrast, the four best-supported nlm models suggested that both the scaling exponent and activation energy significantly vary across the high rank taxa (Collembola, Cryptostigmata, Mesostigmata and Prostigmata) to which species belong, with mean values of b ranging from about 0.6 to 0.8. We therefore reached two conclusions: 1, published analyses of arthropod metabolism based on logarithmic data may be biased by data transformation; 2, non-linear models applied to Antarctic microarthropod metabolic rate suggest that intraspecific scaling of standard metabolic rate in Antarctic microarthropods is highly variable and can be characterised by scaling exponents that greatly vary within taxa, which may have biased previous interspecific comparisons that neglected intraspecific variability.


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Authors: Caruso, Tancredi, Garlaschelli, Diego, Bargagli, Roberto, Convey, Peter ORCIDORCID record for Peter Convey

On this site: Peter Convey
1 January, 2010
Oikos / 119
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