Phylogenetic analysis of the allometric scaling of therapeutic regimes for birds


  • Editor: Jean-Nicolas Volff

A. P. Kabat, Centre for Ornithology, School of Biosciences, University of Birmingham, Edgbaston, Birmingham, B15 2TT, UK. Tel: +44 (0) 121 414 3822; Fax: +44 (0) 121 414 5925


The use of allometric scaling to estimate drug doses, regimes, and clearance rates (metabolic dosing) is based on the principle that the amount of drug to be administered is more closely related to daily energy use than to body mass (kg). Thus, by using the allometric estimations of minimal energy consumption (MEC) in kcal day−1 based on the formula MEC=kMbb, where b=3, it is thought to be possible to extrapolate appropriate drug dosage regimens to species for which direct MEC data are unavailable. However, the allometric equations for respiratory variables in birds were developed 30 years ago, and were based on a very small sample size, while the appropriate scaling exponent for the allometry of energy use is a matter of considerable debate. Hence, we revisit the issue of the scaling of therapeutic regimes in birds using the most current expanded database available (resting metabolic rate data for 296 species across 17 bird orders), taking account of the non-independence of species in this process using a phylogenetically independent approach. We show that the use of caloric values to estimate daily energy consumption introduces significant error into the formula, as there are a number of assumptions that are made when converting rate of oxygen consumption to a caloric value. We also show that there are significant differences in the proportionality or Hainsworth coefficients k across taxa when the data are examined in a phylogenetic context, although the allometric scaling exponent does not vary. We therefore recommend the use of only data based on oxygen consumption values, and not caloric values, and a multi-order phylogenetic model when calculating the appropriate drug dosage regime.