Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations

Ecologists Say Metabolism Accounts For Why Natural Selection Favors Only Some Species

Date:
November 5, 2008
Source:
University of California - Riverside
Summary:
Why are some species of plants and animals favored by natural selection? And why does natural selection not favor other species similarly? According to a new study, the answer lies in the rate of metabolism of a species - how fast a species consumes energy, per unit mass, per unit time.

Why are some species of plants and animals favored by natural selection? And why does natural selection not favor other species similarly?

According to a UC Riverside-led research team, the answer lies in the rate of metabolism of a species – how fast a species consumes energy, per unit mass, per unit time.

The researchers studied 3006 species, the largest number of species ever analyzed in a single study. The species list encompasses much of the range of biological diversity on Earth – from bacteria to elephants, and algae to sapling trees.

To the researchers' surprise, they found the mean metabolic rate of the species at rest fell on a narrow range of values – 0.3 to 9 Watts per kilogram.

"This narrow range is in dramatic contrast to the 20 orders of magnitude difference in the body mass of the species we studied," said Bai-Lian Li, a professor of ecology at UC Riverside, who led the study along with two colleagues. "At physiological rest, the biosphere appears to run, on average, predominantly at the optimal rate defined by this narrow range of values. This remarkable phenomenon is likely associated with the pervasive biochemical universality of living matter, and could provide us with clues to understanding how life is organized."

Study results appear in the Nov. 4 issue of the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.

According to Li, the metabolic optimum explains the ubiquitous and seemingly unrelated features of life organization we see all around us – complex adaptations such as animal breathing and flat, green leaves.

"Organisms whose designs fit the physiological window have been favored by natural selection across all of life's major kingdoms," he said. "This observed, narrow range might therefore be considered as the preferred, optimal range for the functioning of living matter as a whole."

Unlike the genetic code and protein composition, metabolic rate cannot be inherited from a common ancestor. Rather, a particular range of metabolic rates is maintained by natural selection.

"Species had to invent diverse tricks to remain near the metabolic optimum, from which the progressive evolutionary increase in body size – from prokaryotes to largest vertebrates and plants – was continually taking them away," Li said.

He was joined in the study by co-leaders Anastassia M. Makarieva and Victor G. Gorshkov of the Russian Academy of Sciences, St. Petersburg. Their co-authors on the research paper are Steven L. Chown of Stellenbosch University, South Africa; Peter B. Reich of the University of Minnesota, St. Paul; and Valery M. Gavrilov of Moscow State University, Russia.

The U.S. National Science Foundation, the University of California Agricultural Experiment Station, the Wilderness Research Foundation and the Rainforest Concern and Global Canopy Program supported the study.


Story Source:

The above story is based on materials provided by University of California - Riverside. Note: Materials may be edited for content and length.


Cite This Page:

University of California - Riverside. "Ecologists Say Metabolism Accounts For Why Natural Selection Favors Only Some Species." ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 5 November 2008. <www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2008/11/081103160856.htm>.
University of California - Riverside. (2008, November 5). Ecologists Say Metabolism Accounts For Why Natural Selection Favors Only Some Species. ScienceDaily. Retrieved September 16, 2014 from www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2008/11/081103160856.htm
University of California - Riverside. "Ecologists Say Metabolism Accounts For Why Natural Selection Favors Only Some Species." ScienceDaily. www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2008/11/081103160856.htm (accessed September 16, 2014).

Share This



More Fossils & Ruins News

Tuesday, September 16, 2014

Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations


Featured Videos

from AP, Reuters, AFP, and other news services

Researchers Explore Shipwrecks Off Calif. Coast

Researchers Explore Shipwrecks Off Calif. Coast

AP (Sep. 16, 2014) — Federal researchers are exploring more than a dozen underwater sites where they believe ships sank in the treacherous waters west of San Francisco in the decades following the Gold Rush. (Sept. 16) Video provided by AP
Powered by NewsLook.com
Museum Traces Fragments of Star-Spangled Banner

Museum Traces Fragments of Star-Spangled Banner

AP (Sep. 12, 2014) — As the Star-Spangled Banner celebrates its bicentennial, Smithsonian curators are still uncovering fragments of the original flag that inspired Francis Scott Key's poem. (Sept. 12) Video provided by AP
Powered by NewsLook.com
Spinosaurus Could Be First Semi-Aquatic Dinosaur

Spinosaurus Could Be First Semi-Aquatic Dinosaur

Newsy (Sep. 11, 2014) — New research has shown that the Spinosaurus, the largest carnivorous dinosaur, might have been just as well suited for life in the water as on land. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com
Meet Spinosaurus, the First-Known Water Dinosaur

Meet Spinosaurus, the First-Known Water Dinosaur

AFP (Sep. 11, 2014) — Spinosaurus aegyptiacus was adapted for both land and water, and an exhibit featuring a life-sized model, based on new fossils unearthed in eastern Morocco, opens at the National Geographic Museum in Washington on Friday. Duration: 01:02 Video provided by AFP
Powered by NewsLook.com

Search ScienceDaily

Number of stories in archives: 140,361

Find with keyword(s):
 
Enter a keyword or phrase to search ScienceDaily for related topics and research stories.

Save/Print:
Share:  

Breaking News:
from the past week

In Other News

... from NewsDaily.com

Science News

Health News

    Environment News

      Technology News



      Save/Print:
      Share:  

      Free Subscriptions


      Get the latest science news with ScienceDaily's free email newsletters, updated daily and weekly. Or view hourly updated newsfeeds in your RSS reader:

      Get Social & Mobile


      Keep up to date with the latest news from ScienceDaily via social networks and mobile apps:

      Have Feedback?


      Tell us what you think of ScienceDaily -- we welcome both positive and negative comments. Have any problems using the site? Questions?
      Mobile iPhone Android Web
      Follow Facebook Twitter Google+
      Subscribe RSS Feeds Email Newsletters
      Latest Headlines Health & Medicine Mind & Brain Space & Time Matter & Energy Computers & Math Plants & Animals Earth & Climate Fossils & Ruins