The crown joules: energetics, ecology, and evolution in humans and other primates.
Biological diversity is metabolic diversity: Differences in anatomy, physiology, life history, and activity reflect differences in energy allocation and expenditure among traits and tasks. Traditional frameworks in primatology, human ecology, public health, and paleoanthropology view daily energy expenditure as being more variable within than between species, changing with activity level but essentially fixed for a given body size. Growing evidence turns this view on its head. Total energy expenditure (kcal/d), varies relatively little within species, despite variation in physical activity; it varies considerably among species even after controlling for the effect of body size. Embracing this emerging paradigm requires rethinking potential trade-offs in energy allocation within and between species, assessing evidence of metabolic acceleration within lineages, and abandoning activity-based estimates of total energy expenditure. Difficult and exciting work lies ahead in the effort to untangle the ecological and evolutionary pressures shaping primate metabolic diversity.
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