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Systems 2018, 6(1), 4; doi:10.3390/systems6010004

Rediscovering and Reviving Old Observations and Explanations of Metabolic Scaling in Living Systems

Department of Biology, Juniata College, Huntingdon, PA 16652, USA
Received: 16 December 2017 / Revised: 18 January 2018 / Accepted: 22 January 2018 / Published: 29 January 2018
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Abstract

Why the rate of metabolism varies (scales) in regular, but diverse ways with body size is a perennial, incompletely resolved question in biology. In this article, I discuss several examples of the recent rediscovery and (or) revival of specific metabolic scaling relationships and explanations for them previously published during the nearly 200-year history of allometric studies. I carry out this discussion in the context of the four major modal mechanisms highlighted by the contextual multimodal theory (CMT) that I published in this journal four years ago. These mechanisms include metabolically important processes and their effects that relate to surface area, resource transport, system (body) composition, and resource demand. In so doing, I show that no one mechanism can completely explain the broad diversity of metabolic scaling relationships that exists. Multi-mechanistic models are required, several of which I discuss. Successfully developing a truly general theory of biological scaling requires the consideration of multiple hypotheses, causal mechanisms and scaling relationships, and their integration in a context-dependent way. A full awareness of the rich history of allometric studies, an openness to multiple perspectives, and incisive experimental and comparative tests can help this important quest. View Full-Text
Keywords: allometry; body-size; ecology; history of science; metabolic rate; multi-mechanistic explanations; physical constraints; scaling; scientific rediscovery allometry; body-size; ecology; history of science; metabolic rate; multi-mechanistic explanations; physical constraints; scaling; scientific rediscovery
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This is an open access article distributed under the Creative Commons Attribution License which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited. (CC BY 4.0).

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Glazier, D.S. Rediscovering and Reviving Old Observations and Explanations of Metabolic Scaling in Living Systems. Systems 2018, 6, 4.

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