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Why birds cannot be smaller than bees

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Birds and mammals of body mass M that live in cold climates cannot have a body radius, Rmin, below about 2.5 cm. This criterion follows from the balance of metabolic heat production described by Kleiber's function, Γ = 3.6M0.73, and heat-conduction losses through the body insulation. Rmin differs from the critical radius calculated from a heat-flow balance at the outer edge of the organism that does not consider metabolic limitations.

Les oiseaux et les mammifères de masse corporelle M qui vivent en climat froid ne peuvent pas avoir un rayon plus petit que Rmin, environ 2,5 cm. Ce critère est basé sur l'équilibre entre la production métabolique de chaleur décrite par l'équation de Kleiber, Γ = 3.6M0,73, et les pertes de chaleur par conduction à travers la couche isolante du corps. Rmin diffère du rayon critique calculé pour un équilibre de flux de chaleur à la limite externe de l'organisme sans tenir compte des limites métaboliques.[Traduit par la Rédaction]

Document Type: Research Article

Publication date: September 1, 2001

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  • Published since 1929, this monthly journal reports on primary research contributed by respected international scientists in the broad field of zoology, including behaviour, biochemistry and physiology, developmental biology, ecology, genetics, morphology and ultrastructure, parasitology and pathology, and systematics and evolution. It also invites experts to submit review articles on topics of current interest.
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