Metabolic rate is canalized in the face of variable life history and nutritional environment Academic Article uri icon


  • 2015 The Authors. Functional Ecology 2015 British Ecological Society. Despite its central importance in organismal physiology, we have poor understanding of how metabolic rate is influenced by two key factors food nutritional content and an organism's physiological characteristics. We examined how variation in nutrients and physiological aspects of life history affect standard metabolic rate in Gryllusfirmus cricket morphs that differ dramatically in flight capability and early-age fecundity. Newly moulted female morphs were fed one of 13 diets that differed in concentrations of protein and carbohydrate. Carbon dioxide production, respiratory exchange ratios (RERs), nutrient intake and mass and lipid levels were measured. CO2 production and RERs increased to a similar degree in both morphs as food macronutrient content increased. In contrast, no difference in whole-organism O2 consumption was observed across the proteincarbohydrate landscape or between morphs. Both morphs similarly increased food intake as nutrient concentration particularly protein decreased, but differed in mass and lipid gains, across the diets. Modulation of the substrate used for respiration coupled with compensating aspects of morph-specific metabolism appears to buffer the effects of variable nutrient intake and life history on standard metabolic rate. That is, respiration rate can be highly canalized in the face of dramatic variation in both the external nutritional environment and internal aspects of intermediary metabolism.

published proceedings


altmetric score

  • 0.5

author list (cited authors)

  • Clark, R. M., Zera, A. J., & Behmer, S. T.

citation count

  • 17

complete list of authors

  • Clark, Rebecca M||Zera, Anthony J||Behmer, Spencer T

editor list (cited editors)

  • Sinclair, B.

publication date

  • June 2016