Allometry of behavior

Trends Ecol Evol. 2008 Jul;23(7):394-401. doi: 10.1016/j.tree.2008.03.005. Epub 2008 May 22.


The study of allometric and size scaling relationships is well developed in most biological fields, but lags behind in the area of animal behavior. Part of the reason for this deficit is that scaling relationships of behaviors tend to be inherently more 'noisy' than other biological scaling relationships. However, body size has a pervasive influence on the performance of animals in their environments. For example, the frequently strong relationship between power-to-mass ratios and locomotor performance means that smaller species and individuals enjoy superior locomotor performance (burst acceleration and maneuverability) than larger species, particularly within a clade. We suggest that these size-related functional influences on performance profoundly influence many aspects of animal behavior, such as how animals forage, fight, flee, perceive danger, respond to risk and interact with other individuals. We outline exciting avenues for research on the allometry of behavior by integrating scaling and functional perspectives.

Publication types

  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, Non-P.H.S.
  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Behavior, Animal / physiology*
  • Biological Evolution*
  • Biometry / methods*
  • Body Size / physiology
  • Body Weight / physiology*
  • Ecology*
  • Locomotion / physiology*
  • Models, Biological
  • Risk Factors
  • Species Specificity