Metabolism provides a crucial foundation to all biological processes, consequently meaning that theories which describe the rate at which metabolic rate scales with body mass could have great predictive power in ecology. There are currently scientific groups trying to predict this variation and determine the scaling relationship for species across wide ranges of taxonomic groups. This has led to the emergence of two main groups of competing theories; the first focussing on surface area and the second on transportation “networks”. Both groups of theories predict differing slopes when size increase is equal in three dimensions compared to when size increase is in two dimensions only (or in some dimensions more than others such that surface area remains directly proportional to body mass). This study will attempt to resolve some of this conflict and provide a powerful test of the competing metabolic scaling theories by collating extensive data from scientific literature to examine the relationship between metabolic rate and “shape” across a wide range of marine invertebrate taxa.
It sounds a little daunting at first, but it is actually incredibly interesting! There is huge potential for this type of theory in the field of ecology, so if my project manages to distinguish between the different theories and determine which (if any!) is a more accurate representation of the truth, then it will (I hope) be a great success. I aim to have completed the data analysis by February, so I will keep you updated on the results! For now, I should get back to the endless task of data crunching..