Papers in the Biological Sciences


Date of this Version



Russo, Robinson & Terborgh in the American Naturalist (February 2003) 161(2).


Copyright 2003, University of Chicago. Used by permission.


We studied size-abundance relationships in a species-rich Amazonian bird community and found that the slope of the logarithmic relationship between population density and body mass (b= −0.22) is significantly shallower than expected under Damuth’s energetic equivalence rule (EER), which states that population energy use (PEU) is independent of species body mass. We used estimates of avian field metabolic rates to examine the logarithmic relationship between PEU and body mass and its variation among ecological guilds. The relationship for all species had a significantly positive slope (b = 0.46), indicating that PEU of larger species was greater than that of smaller species. Analyses of guilds revealed significant variation. The slopes of the frugivore-omnivore, insectivore, and granivore guilds were all significantly positive, with that of the frugivore-omnivore guild being the steepest. In contrast, PEU did not vary significantly with species body mass among raptors. These results were confirmed in analyses using both species values and phylogenetically independent contrasts, and the results do not support the EER in this community. The spatial distribution of resources and mechanisms of interference competition within guilds may explain why most patterns differed from the predictions of the EER. Other sources of variation, including the effects of scale, are also discussed.