[MARMAM] New publication on energy flow in aquatic and terrestrial mammals

Andreas Fahlman afahlman at whoi.edu
Sun Jun 4 22:20:27 PDT 2023

Dear colleagues,

On behalf of my co-authors, I am happy to announce the publication of our new paper in Physiological Reports

Title: Allometric scaling of metabolic rate and cardiorespiratory variables in aquatic and terrestrial mammals

Authors: Rebecca S. He, Stacy De Ruiter, Tristan Westover, Jason A. Somarelli, Ashley M. Blawas, Divya L. Dayanidhi, Ana Singh, Benjamin Steves, Samantha Driesinga, Lewis G. Halsey, Andreas Fahlman

Journal: Physiological Reports

Full view access to the article can be found here:

While basal metabolic rate (BMR) scales proportionally with body mass (Mb), it remains unclear whether the relationship differs between mammals from aquatic and terrestrial habitats. We hypothesized that differences in BMR allometry would be reflected in similar differences in scaling of O2 delivery pathways through the cardiorespiratory system. We performed a comparative analysis of BMR across 63 mammalian species (20 aquatic, 43 terrestrial) with a Mb range from 10 kg to 5318 kg. Our results revealed elevated BMRs in small (>10 kg and <100 kg) aquatic mammals compared to small terrestrial mammals. The results demonstrated that minute ventilation, that is, tidal volume (VT)·breathing frequency (fR), as well as cardiac output, that is, stroke volume·heart rate, do not differ between the two habitats. We found that the “aquatic breathing strategy”, characterized by higher VT and lower fR resulting in a more effective gas exchange, and by elevated blood hemoglobin concentrations resulting in a higher volume of O2 for the same volume of blood, supported elevated metabolic requirements in aquatic mammals. The results from this study provide a possible explanation of how differences in gas exchange may serve energy demands in aquatic versus terrestrial mammals.

Feel free to contact me with any questions.


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