Do Performance–Safety Tradeoffs Cause Hypometric Metabolic Scaling in Animals?

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review

40 Scopus citations


Hypometric scaling of aerobic metabolism in animals has been widely attributed to constraints on oxygen (O2) supply in larger animals, but recent findings demonstrate that O2 supply balances with need regardless of size. Larger animals also do not exhibit evidence of compensation for O2 supply limitation. Because declining metabolic rates (MRs) are tightly linked to fitness, this provides significant evidence against the hypothesis that constraints on supply drive hypometric scaling. As an alternative, ATP demand might decline in larger animals because of performance–safety tradeoffs. Larger animals, which typically reproduce later, exhibit risk-reducing strategies that lower MR. Conversely, smaller animals are more strongly selected for growth and costly neurolocomotory performance, elevating metabolism. Animal size does not affect limiting O2 levels, based on physiological tests. Larger animals show no evidence of attempting to compensate for O2 supply limits. Smaller animals have more expensive neuromuscular and anabolic systems. Larger animals have characteristics that reduce risk and energy use. Declining mass-specific ATP demand might cause hypometric scaling of MR.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)653-664
Number of pages12
JournalTrends in Ecology and Evolution
Issue number9
StatePublished - Sep 2017


  • allometry
  • body size
  • metabolic rate
  • scaling

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Ecology, Evolution, Behavior and Systematics


Dive into the research topics of 'Do Performance–Safety Tradeoffs Cause Hypometric Metabolic Scaling in Animals?'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this