Testing Metabolic Theories
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... tion, growth, and reproduction. There has been a recent push to build an individual-based metabolic underpinning into ecological theory-that is, a metabolic theory of ecology. However, the two main theories of individual metabolism that have been applied in ecology-Kooijman's dynamic energy budget (DEB) theory and the West, Brown, and Enquist (WBE) theoryhave fundamentally different assumptions. Surprisingly, the core assumptions of these two theories have not been rigorously compared from an empirical perspective. Before we can build an understanding of ecology on the basis of individual metabolism, we must resolve the differences between these theories and thus set the appropriate foundation. Here we compare the DEB and WBE theories in detail as applied to ontogenetic growth and metabolic scaling, from which we identify circumstances where their predictions diverge most strongly. Promising experimental areas include manipulative studies of tissue regeneration, body shape, body condition, temperature, and oxygen. Much empirical work designed specifically with DEB and WBE theory in mind is required before any consensus can be reached on the appropriate theoretical basis for a metabolic theory of ecology.