Primate energy expenditure and life history

Herman Pontzer, David A Raichlen, Adam D. Gordon, Kara K. Schroepfer-Walker, Brian Hare, Matthew C. O'Neill, Kathleen M. Muldoon, Holly M. Dunsworth, Brian M. Wood, Karin Isler, Judith Burkart, Mitchell Irwin, Robert W. Shumakerl, Elizabeth V. Lonsdorf, Stephen R. Ross

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

63 Citations (Scopus)

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.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)1433-1437
Number of pages5
JournalProceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America
Volume111
Issue number4
DOIs
StatePublished - Jan 28 2014

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Energy Metabolism
Primates
Mammals
Reproduction
Growth
Appointments and Schedules
Water
Brain
Population

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • General

Cite this

Pontzer, H., Raichlen, D. A., Gordon, A. D., Schroepfer-Walker, K. K., Hare, B., O'Neill, M. C., ... 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. https://doi.org/10.1073/pnas.1316940111

Primate energy expenditure and life history. / Pontzer, Herman; Raichlen, David A; Gordon, Adam D.; Schroepfer-Walker, Kara K.; Hare, Brian; O'Neill, Matthew C.; Muldoon, Kathleen M.; Dunsworth, Holly M.; Wood, Brian M.; Isler, Karin; Burkart, Judith; Irwin, Mitchell; Shumakerl, Robert W.; Lonsdorf, Elizabeth V.; Ross, Stephen R.

In: Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America, Vol. 111, No. 4, 28.01.2014, p. 1433-1437.

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

Pontzer, H, Raichlen, DA, Gordon, AD, Schroepfer-Walker, KK, Hare, B, O'Neill, MC, Muldoon, KM, Dunsworth, HM, Wood, BM, Isler, K, Burkart, J, Irwin, M, Shumakerl, RW, Lonsdorf, EV & Ross, SR 2014, 'Primate energy expenditure and life history', Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America, vol. 111, no. 4, pp. 1433-1437. https://doi.org/10.1073/pnas.1316940111
Pontzer, Herman ; Raichlen, David A ; Gordon, Adam D. ; Schroepfer-Walker, Kara K. ; Hare, Brian ; O'Neill, Matthew C. ; Muldoon, Kathleen M. ; Dunsworth, Holly M. ; Wood, Brian M. ; Isler, Karin ; Burkart, Judith ; Irwin, Mitchell ; Shumakerl, Robert W. ; Lonsdorf, Elizabeth V. ; Ross, Stephen R. / Primate energy expenditure and life history. In: Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America. 2014 ; Vol. 111, No. 4. pp. 1433-1437.
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