Sep 13, 2008

Sizing up allometric scaling theory

PLoS Computational Biology
Van SavageWalter Fontana


Metabolic rate, heart rate, lifespan, and many other physiological properties vary with body mass in systematic and interrelated ways. Present empirical data suggest that these scaling relationships take the form of power laws with exponents that are simple multiples of one quarter. A compelling explanation of this observation was put forward a decade ago by West, Brown, and Enquist (WBE). Their framework elucidates the link between metabolic rate and body mass by focusing on the dynamics and structure of resource distribution networks-the cardiovascular system in the case of mammals. Within this framework the WBE model is based on eight assumptions from which it derives the well-known observed scaling exponent of 3/4. In this paper we clarify that this result only holds in the limit of infinite network size (body mass) and that the actual exponent predicted by the model depends on the sizes of the organisms being studied. Failure to clarify and to explore the nature of this approximation has led to debates about the WBE model that were at cross purposes. We compute analytical expressions for the finite-size corrections to the 3/4 exponent, resulting in a spectrum of scaling exponents as a function of absolute network size. Whe...Continue Reading

  • References52
  • Citations79


  • References52
  • Citations79


Mentioned in this Paper

Metabolic Process, Cellular
In Silico
Arterial System
Electric Impedance
Blood Flow Velocity
Cardiovascular System
Blood Vessel
Dicom Derivation

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