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Primate energy expenditure and life history


Pontzer, H; Raichlen, D A; Gordon, A D; Schroepfer-Walker, K K; Hare, B; O'Neill, M C; Muldoon, K M; Dunsworth, H M; Wood, B M; Isler, K; Burkart, J; Irwin, M; Shumaker, R W; Lonsdorf, E V; Ross, S R (2014). Primate energy expenditure and life history. Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America, 111(4):1433-1437.

Abstract

Humans and other primates are distinct among placental mammals in having exceptionally slow rates of growth, reproduction, and aging. Primates' slow life history schedules are generally thought to reflect an evolved strategy of allocating energy away from growth and reproduction and toward somatic investment, particularly to the development and maintenance of large brains. Here we examine an alternative explanation: that primates' slow life histories reflect low total energy expenditure (TEE) (kilocalories per day) relative to other placental mammals. We compared doubly labeled water measurements of TEE among 17 primate species with similar measures for other placental mammals. We found that primates use remarkably little energy each day, expending on average only 50% of the energy expected for a placental mammal of similar mass. Such large differences in TEE are not easily explained by differences in physical activity, and instead appear to reflect systemic metabolic adaptation for low energy expenditures in primates. Indeed, comparisons of wild and captive primate populations indicate similar levels of energy expenditure. Broad interspecific comparisons of growth, reproduction, and maximum life span indicate that primates' slow metabolic rates contribute to their characteristically slow life histories.

Abstract

Humans and other primates are distinct among placental mammals in having exceptionally slow rates of growth, reproduction, and aging. Primates' slow life history schedules are generally thought to reflect an evolved strategy of allocating energy away from growth and reproduction and toward somatic investment, particularly to the development and maintenance of large brains. Here we examine an alternative explanation: that primates' slow life histories reflect low total energy expenditure (TEE) (kilocalories per day) relative to other placental mammals. We compared doubly labeled water measurements of TEE among 17 primate species with similar measures for other placental mammals. We found that primates use remarkably little energy each day, expending on average only 50% of the energy expected for a placental mammal of similar mass. Such large differences in TEE are not easily explained by differences in physical activity, and instead appear to reflect systemic metabolic adaptation for low energy expenditures in primates. Indeed, comparisons of wild and captive primate populations indicate similar levels of energy expenditure. Broad interspecific comparisons of growth, reproduction, and maximum life span indicate that primates' slow metabolic rates contribute to their characteristically slow life histories.

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Item Type:Journal Article, refereed, original work
Communities & Collections:07 Faculty of Science > Department of Anthropology
Dewey Decimal Classification:300 Social sciences, sociology & anthropology
Language:English
Date:2014
Deposited On:04 Mar 2014 09:41
Last Modified:08 Dec 2017 04:01
Publisher:National Academy of Sciences
ISSN:0027-8424
Free access at:Publisher DOI. An embargo period may apply.
Publisher DOI:https://doi.org/10.1073/pnas.1316940111
PubMed ID:24474770

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