Climate and foraging mode explain interspecific variation in snake metabolic rates

The energy cost of self-maintenance is a critical facet of life-history strategies. Clarifying the determinant of interspecific variation in metabolic rate (MR) at rest is important to understand and predict ecological patterns such as species distributions or responses to climatic changes. We examined variation of MR in snakes, a group characterized by a remarkable diversity of activity rates and a wide distribution. We collated previously published MR data (n = 491 observations) measured in 90 snake species at different trial temperatures. We tested for the effects of metabolic state (standard MR (SMR) versus resting MR (RMR)), foraging mode (active versus ambush foragers) and climate (temperature and precipitation) while accounting for non-independence owing to phylogeny, body mass and thermal dependence. We found that RMR was 40% higher than SMR, and that active foragers have higher MR than species that ambush their prey. We found that MR was higher in cold environments, supporting the metabolic cold adaptation hypothesis. We also found an additive and positive effect of precipitation on MR suggesting that lower MR in arid environments may decrease dehydration and energetic costs. Altogether, our findings underline the complex influences of climate and foraging mode on MR and emphasize the relevance of these facets to understand the physiological impact of climate change.


climate, ectotherm, lifestyle, metabolic cold adaptation, metabolic rate

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Dupoue Andreaz, Brischoux Francois, Lourdais Olivier (2017). Climate and foraging mode explain interspecific variation in snake metabolic rates. Proceedings Of The Royal Society B-biological Sciences. 284 (1867). 20172108 (6p.).,

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