Phylogenetic analysis of mammalian maximal oxygen consumption during exercise

Elizabeth M. Dlugosz, Mark A. Chappell, Thomas H. Meek, Paulina A. Szafrańska, Karol Zub, Marek Konarzewski, James H Jones, J. Eduardo P W Bicudo, Roberto F. Nespolo, Vincent Careau, Theodore Garland

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

48 Scopus citations


We compiled published values of mammalian maximum oxygen consumption during exercise (V O2,max) and supplemented these data with new measurements of V O2,max for the largest rodent (capybara), 20 species of smaller-bodied rodents, two species of weasels and one small marsupial. Many of the new data were obtained with running-wheel respirometers instead of the treadmill systems used in most previous measurements of mammalian V O2,max. We used both conventional and phylogenetically informed allometric regression models to analyze V O2,max of 77 species' (including subspecies or separate populations within species) in relation to body size, phylogeny, diet and measurement method. Both body mass and allometrically mass-corrected V O2,max showed highly significant phylogenetic signals (i.e. related species tended to resemble each other). The Akaike information criterion corrected for sample size was used to compare 27 candidate models predicting V O2,max (all of which included body mass). In addition to mass, the two best-fitting models (cumulative Akaike weight=0.93) included dummy variables coding for three species previously shown to have high V O2,max (pronghorn, horse and a bat), and incorporated a transformation of the phylogenetic branch lengths under an OrnsteinUhlenbeck model of residual variation (thus indicating phylogenetic signal in the residuals). We found no statistical difference between wheel-and treadmill-elicited values, and diet had no predictive ability for V O2,max. Averaged across all models, the allometric scaling exponent was 0.839, with 95% confidence limits of 0.795 and 0.883, which does not provide support for a scaling exponent of 0.67, 0.75 or unity.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)4712-4721
Number of pages10
JournalJournal of Experimental Biology
Issue number24
StatePublished - Dec 2013


  • Allometry
  • Comparative method
  • Exercise
  • Locomotion
  • Mammals
  • Maximum oxygen consumption
  • Phylogeny,V

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Animal Science and Zoology
  • Ecology, Evolution, Behavior and Systematics
  • Molecular Biology
  • Physiology
  • Insect Science
  • Aquatic Science


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