NCEAS Project 12064

Towards a new metabolic theory of ecology

  • David Atkinson

ActivityDatesFurther Information
Sabbatical Fellow1st October 2007—30th June 2008Participant List  

The hugely influential Metabolic Theory of Ecology (MTE) has been called “ecology’s big hot idea”. It is based on how body size and temperature set the pace of life, hence determine the speed and duration of many biological and ecological processes. However, substantial and systematic deviations from the predictions of the MTE have prompted me to develop an alternative theory, and construct databases with data from diverse organisms ranging from microbes to mammals, to test my predictions and those of the MTE. Over a period of 9 months working and interacting with colleagues at NCEAS, I would use these databases to test assumptions and predictions of metabolic theories of ecology, including: (i) how body or key organ surface areas affect the size-scaling of oxygen consumption; (ii) how adaptation affects the response of the rate of increase of populations to temperature; and (iii) how ecosystem photosynthesis/respiration balance is affected by temperature.

TypeProducts of NCEAS Research
Journal Article Feuchtmayr, Heidrun; Moss, Brian; Harvey, Ian; Moran, Rebecca; Connor, Leslie; Atkinson, David. 2010. Differential effects of warming and nutrient loading on the timing and size of the spring zooplankton peak: An experimental approach with hypertrophic freshwater mesocosms. Journal of Plankton Research. Vol: 32. Pages 1715-1725. (Online version)
Journal Article Killen, Shaun S.; Atkinson, David; Glazier, Douglas S. 2008. Ecological factors contributing to variation in the scaling of metabolic rate with body mass in fishes. Comparative Biochemistry and Physiology. Vol: 150(A). Pages S111.
Journal Article Killen, Shaun S.; Atkinson, David; Glazier, Douglas S. 2010. The intraspecific scaling of metabolic rate with body mass in fishes depends on lifestyle and temperature. Ecology Letters. Vol: 13. Pages 184-193. (Online version)