The predominance of quarter-power scaling in biology
Article first published online: 2 APR 2004
Volume 18, Issue 2, pages 257–282, April 2004
How to Cite
Savage, V. M., Gillooly, J. F., Woodruff, W. H., West, G. B., Allen, A. P., Enquist, B. J. and Brown, J. H. (2004), The predominance of quarter-power scaling in biology. Functional Ecology, 18: 257–282. doi: 10.1111/j.0269-8463.2004.00856.x
- Issue published online: 2 APR 2004
- Article first published online: 2 APR 2004
- Received 26 September 2003; revised 13 November 2003; accepted 21 November 2003
- Body size;
- metabolic rates;
- physiological times;
- quarter-power scaling
- 1Recent studies have resurrected the debate over the value for the allometric scaling exponent that relates whole-organism metabolic rate to body size. Is it 3/4 or 2/3? This question has been raised before and resolved in favour of 3/4. Like previous ones, recent claims for a value of 2/3 are based almost entirely on basal metabolic rate (BMR) in mammals.
- 2Here we compile and analyse a new, larger data set for mammalian BMR. We show that interspecific variation in BMR, as well as field metabolic rates of mammals, and basal or standard metabolic rates for many other organisms, including vertebrates, invertebrates, protists and plants, all scale with exponents whose confidence intervals include 3/4 and exclude 2/3. Our analysis of maximal metabolic rate gives a slope that is greater than and confidence intervals that exclude both 3/4 and 2/3.
- 3Additionally, numerous other physiological rates that are closely tied to metabolism in a wide variety of organisms, including heart and respiratory rates in mammals, scale as M−1/4.
- 4The fact that quarter-power allometric scaling is so pervasive in biology suggests that different allometric relations have a common, mechanistic origin and provides an empirical basis for theoretical models that derive these scaling exponents.