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Universal scaling of production rates across mammalian lineages

Hamilton, M. J., Davidson, A. D., Sibly, R. ORCID: and Brown, J. H. (2011) Universal scaling of production rates across mammalian lineages. Proceedings of the Royal Society B-Biological Sciences, 278 (1705). pp. 560-566. ISSN 1471-2954

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To link to this item DOI: 10.1098/rspb.2010.1056


Over many millions of years of independent evolution, placental, marsupial and monotreme mammals have diverged conspicuously in physiology, life history and reproductive ecology. The differences in life histories are particularly striking. Compared with placentals, marsupials exhibit shorter pregnancy, smaller size of offspring at birth and longer period of lactation in the pouch. Monotremes also exhibit short pregnancy, but incubate embryos in eggs, followed by a long period of post-hatching lactation. Using a large sample of mammalian species, we show that, remarkably, despite their very different life histories, the scaling of production rates is statistically indistinguishable across mammalian lineages. Apparently all mammals are subject to the same fundamental metabolic constraints on productivity, because they share similar body designs, vascular systems and costs of producing new tissue.

Item Type:Article
Divisions:Life Sciences > School of Biological Sciences > Ecology and Evolutionary Biology
ID Code:25647
Uncontrolled Keywords:production; life history; metabolic ecology; placental; marsupial; monotreme
Publisher:The Royal Society

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