• Dynamic energy budget model;
  • functional trait-based bioenergetic approach;
  • life history traits;
  • marine ectotherms


The functional trait-based bioenergetic approach is emergent in many ecological spectra, from the conservation of natural resources to mitigation and adaptation strategies in a global climate change context. Such an approach relies on being able to exploit mechanistic rules to connect environmental human-induced variability to functional traits (i.e. all those specific traits defining species in terms of their ecological roles) and use these to provide estimates of species life history traits (LH; e.g. body size, fecundity per life span, number of reproductive events). LHs are species-specific and proximate determinants of population characteristics in a certain habitat. They represent the most valuable quantitative information to investigate how broad potential distributional boundaries of a species are, and to feed predictive population models. There is much to be found in the current literature that describes mechanistic functional trait-based bioenergetics models, using them to test ecological hypotheses, but a mathematical framework often renders interpretation and use complicated. Here, we wanted to present a simpler interpretation and description of one of the most important recent mechanistic bioenergetic theories: the dynamic energy budget theory by Kooijman (Dynamic Energy Budget Theory for Metabolic Organisation, 2010, Cambridge University Press, Cambridge). Our main aim was to disentangle those aspects that at first reading may seem too mathematically challenging to many marine biologists, ecologists and environmental scientists, and present them for use in mechanistic applications.