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Stoichiometry of endothermy : shifting the quest from nitrogen to carbon

journal contribution
posted on 01.08.2008, 00:00 authored by Marcel KlaassenMarcel Klaassen, B Nolet
For many animals, notably herbivores, plants are often an inadequate food source given the low content of protein and high content of C-rich material. This conception is mainly based on studies on ectotherms. The validity of this conception for endotherms is unclear given their much higher carbon requirements for maintenance energy metabolism than ectotherms. Applying stoichiometric principles, we hypothesized that endotherms can cope with diets with much higher (metabolizable) carbon to nitrogen ratios than ectotherms. Using empirical data on birds, eutherian mammals, marsupials and reptiles, we compiled and compared measurements and allometric equations for energy metabolism as well as nitrogen requirements. Our analysis supports our hypothesis that plants, and especially their leaves, are generally sufficiently rich in nitrogen to fulfil protein demands in endotherms, at least during maintenance conditions, but less so in ectotherms. This has important implications with respect to community functioning and the evolution of endothermy.

History

Journal

Ecology letters

Volume

11

Issue

8

Pagination

785 - 792

Publisher

Wiley-Blackwell

Location

Oxford, England

ISSN

1461-023X

eISSN

1461-0248

Language

eng

Publication classification

C1.1 Refereed article in a scholarly journal

Copyright notice

2008, Blackwell Publishing