Meeting: SICB symposium for January 2022: Causal Mechanisms of Metabolic Scaling

Project: Research project

Project Details


Meeting: SICB symposium for January 2022: Causal Mechanisms of Metabolic Scaling Meeting: SICB symposium for January 2022: Causal Mechanisms of Metabolic Scaling Overview This project will fund a symposium titled Causal Mechanisms of Metabolic Scaling at the Society for Integrative and Comparative Biology (SICB) meeting, January 2022. Eleven speakers, a mixture of senior scientists and young scientists (mostly postdocs and graduate students) will present on their research related to understanding the genetic, physiological and ecological causes of one of the best-documented but least understood patterns in biology, the hypometric scaling of metabolic rates (larger animals use less energy per gram). The speakers will also meet by zoom before and after the meeting, and in a workshop after the symposium, to work together on a joint synthesis/white paper that summarizes our current understanding of this important topic. Intellectual Merit Body size explains a large fraction of phenotypic variation in all animal groups, with many aspects of morphology, behavior, physiology, ecology and evolution differing between small and large animals. However, we have a limited understanding of the causes of metabolic scaling. Of all the metabolic scaling patterns, the hypometric scaling of metabolic rate (larger animals use less energy per gram) has been particularly well-established, and the lower energy turnover in larger animals is thought to drive many of the other scaling patterns such as lower food consumption or smaller territories. Unfortunately, the causal mechanisms for hypometric scaling of metabolic rates remain highly controversial. While scaling patterns have a long history of biological research, this will be the first symposium to focus on how natural selection acts differentially on animals of different body sizes in ways that produce interspecific metabolic scaling patterns. Ecological factors such as changing temperature, predation and food availability affect animals of different sizes differently, with consequent effects on metabolic scaling. Body size affects generation time and effective population size, which influence mutation rates and strengths of selection. Body size impacts sensory and cognitive capacities, and metabolic costs of brains can both constrain and determine brain morphology and function, with consequent effects on organismal metabolic scaling. Body size also strongly affects the cost of locomotion with muscles accounting for a large fraction of metabolism in animals. We expect this symposium to kickstart a new era in which underlying physiological, morphological and behavioral correlates of body size are recognized as major drivers of metabolic scaling. Broader impacts This symposium will lead to the production of at least ten papers in ICB that will provide a broad view of our current understanding of causal mechanisms for metabolic scaling in organisms. One of our papers will be a joint synthesis/white paper, written jointly by all participants, that will be particularly important for synthesizing the diverse perspectives that exist on metabolic scaling. The symposium will encourage connections across fields, as we are bringing together scientists who are paleontologists, behaviorists, physiologists, biomechanists, neuroscientists and ecologists. The symposium will strongly promote scientific training as we are including six early career scientists as speakers, with more trainees included in the complementary session. Of all speakers, 6/11 are women and 2/11 from racial groups currently under-represented in science, so this symposium will contribute to increasing inclusivity in biological science.
Effective start/end date10/1/219/30/22


  • National Science Foundation (NSF): $13,703.00


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