Evolutionary entropy: a predictor of body size, metabolic rate and maximal life span

Bull Math Biol. 2009 May;71(4):800-18. doi: 10.1007/s11538-008-9382-6. Epub 2009 Jan 27.


Body size of organisms spans 24 orders of magnitude, and metabolic rate and life span present comparable differences across species. This article shows that this variation can be explained in terms of evolutionary entropy, a statistical parameter which characterizes the robustness of a population, and describes the uncertainty in the age of the mother of a randomly chosen newborn. We show that entropy also has a macroscopic description: It is linearly related to the logarithm of the variables body size, metabolic rate, and life span. Furthermore, entropy characterizes Darwinian fitness, the efficiency with which a population acquires and converts resources into viable offspring. Accordingly, entropy predicts the outcome of natural selection in populations subject to different classes of ecological constraints. This predictive property, when integrated with the macroscopic representation of entropy, is the basis for enormous differences in morphometric and life-history parameters across species.

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Basal Metabolism / genetics
  • Biological Evolution*
  • Birds
  • Body Size / genetics
  • Entropy
  • Genetics, Population
  • Insecta
  • Life Expectancy
  • Mammals
  • Models, Genetic*