Metabolism correlates with variation in post-natal growth rate among songbirds at three latitudes

Functional Ecology
By:  and 



1. Variation in post-natal growth rates is substantial among organisms and especially strong among latitudes because tropical and south temperate species typically have slower growth than north temperate relatives. Metabolic rate is thought to be a critical mechanism underlying growth rates after accounting for allometric effects of body mass. However, comparative tests on a large spatial scale are lacking, and the importance of metabolism for growth rates remains unclear both within and particularly across latitudes.

2. Songbirds exhibit strong interspecific variation in growth rates across geographic space, although within latitudes an association between metabolic rate and growth rate has not always been observed. Moreover, the hypothesis that differences in growth rates across latitudes reflect underlying differences in metabolism is untested. Here, we investigate these possibilities across north temperate, south temperate and tropical study sites.

3. Phylogenetic analyses showed that, for a given body mass, metabolic rates of north temperate nestlings were higher than tropical and south temperate species. Metabolic rates controlled for body mass correlated with post-natal growth rates both within and among latitudes. Offspring body mass explained substantial residual variation in growth rates as expected under classic allometric theory.

4. Our results suggest that variation in metabolic rates has an important influence on broad patterns of avian growth rates at a global scale. We suggest further studies that address the ecological and physiological costs and consequences of variation in metabolism and growth rates.

Publication type Article
Publication Subtype Journal Article
Title Metabolism correlates with variation in post-natal growth rate among songbirds at three latitudes
Series title Functional Ecology
DOI 10.1111/1365-2435.12548
Volume 30
Issue 5
Year Published 2016
Language English
Publisher Wiley
Contributing office(s) Coop Res Unit Seattle
Description 6 p.
First page 743
Last page 748
Online Only (Y/N) N
Additional Online Files (Y/N) N
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