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Effects of body size and lifestyle on evolution of mammal life histories

Sibly, R. M. and Brown, J. H. (2007) Effects of body size and lifestyle on evolution of mammal life histories. Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America, 104 (45). pp. 17707-17712. ISSN 0027-8424

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To link to this item DOI: 10.1073/pnas.0707725104


It has recently been proposed that life-history evolution is subject to a fundamental size-dependent constraint. This constraint limits the rate at which biomass can be produced so that production per unit of body mass is inevitably slower in larger organisms than in smaller ones. Here we derive predictions for how changes in body size and production rates evolve in different lifestyles subject to this constraint. Predictions are tested by using data on the mass of neonate tissue produced per adult per year in 637 placental mammal species and are generally supported. Compared with terrestrial insectivores with generalized primitive traits, mammals that have evolved more specialized lifestyles have divergent massspecific production rates: (i) increased in groups that specialize on abundant and reliable foods: grazing and browsing herbivores (artiodactyls, lagomorphs, perissoclactyls, and folivorous rodents) and flesh-eating marine mammals (pinnipeds, cetaceans); and (ii) decreased in groups that have lifestyles with reduced death rates: bats, primates, arboreal, fossorial, and desert rodents, bears, elephants, and rhinos. Convergent evolution of groups with similar lifestyles is common, so patterns of productivity across mammalian taxa reflect both ecology and phylogeny. The overall result is that groups with different lifestyles have parallel but offset relationships between production rate and body size. These results shed light on the evolution of the fast-slow life-history continuum, suggesting that variation occurs along two axes corresponding to body size and lifestyle.

Item Type:Article
Divisions:Life Sciences > School of Biological Sciences
ID Code:10082
Uncontrolled Keywords:allometry, production rate, metabolic ecology, fast-slow, DESERT RODENTS, ENERGETICS, CONVERGENCE, METABOLISM, PREDATION, BIOLOGY, ECOLOGY

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