Dhruba Naug

Metabolic scaling as an emergent outcome of variation in metabolic rate

  • General Agricultural and Biological Sciences
  • General Biochemistry, Genetics and Molecular Biology

The allometric scaling of metabolic rate and what drives it are major questions in biology with a long history. Since the metabolic rate at any level of biological organization is an emergent property of its lower-level constituents, it is an outcome of the intrinsic heterogeneity among these units and the interactions among them. However, the influence of lower-level heterogeneity on system-level metabolic rate is difficult to investigate, given the tightly integrated body plan of unitary organisms. In this context, social insects such as honeybees can serve as important model systems because unlike unitary organisms, these superorganisms can be taken apart and reassembled in different configurations to study metabolic rate and its various drivers at different levels of organization. This commentary discusses the background of such an approach and how combining it with artificial selection to generate heterogeneity in metabolic rate with an analytical framework to parse out the different mechanisms that contribute to the effects of heterogeneity can contribute to the various models of metabolic scaling. Finally, the absence of the typical allometric scaling relationship among different species of honeybees is discussed as an important prospect for deciphering the role of top-down ecological factors on metabolic scaling. This article is part of the theme issue ‘The evolutionary significance of variation in metabolic rates’.

Need a simple solution for managing your BibTeX entries? Explore CiteDrive!

  • Web-based, modern reference management
  • Collaborate and share with fellow researchers
  • Integration with Overleaf
  • Comprehensive BibTeX/BibLaTeX support
  • Save articles and websites directly from your browser
  • Search for new articles from a database of tens of millions of references
Try out CiteDrive

More from our Archive