June 20, 2024

Reproduction takes more energy than previously known

Reproduction is the basic building block of evolution and thus of life on Earth. Animals and humans expend significant resources to ensure their reproduction. A new study by the American Association for the Advancement of Science (AAAS) has now shown that the energy animals invest in reproduction could actually be ten times higher than previously thought.

81 species were examined

The researchers arrived at the new “energy costs” because they looked not only at direct costs, that is, energy that flows directly to offspring, but also at indirect costs. These expenses include the energy needed to produce, carry, and care for offspring, even before they are born. Although science is now studying the direct costs more closely, the indirect costs – the metabolic burden of childbearing – have so far been the subject of little research.

Scientists have developed them in the specialized journal Sciences The published study provides a quantitative framework for estimating the total energy costs of reproduction across different animal species. This was done by combining data on the energy content of the animals’ offspring and the metabolic burden resulting from carrying them to term. By evaluating 81 species – from microscopic organisms to humans – the team found that direct costs often represent only a smaller fraction of the energy needed to reproduce. In mammals, for example, only about 10% of the energy expended on reproduction is represented in the offspring themselves, while the remaining 90% is invested in the metabolically intensive processes of pregnancy. In humans, particularly high indirect costs of 96% were found.

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Climate change can affect reproduction

“The results were surprising,” says the doctor. Samuel Ginther of Monash University according to Phys.org. “We found that for many animals, the energy expended in carrying and caring for offspring before birth far exceeds the energy invested in the offspring itself.”

The analysis also shows that the evolution of viviparous species was accompanied by dramatic increases in metabolic load. Thus egg-laying animals can save energy.

“These findings are of great importance for understanding how animals evolve and adapt to their environment. “They also raise concerns about the potential impact of climate change on the reproductive success of species, as the study found that indirect costs are particularly sensitive to temperature fluctuations.”

Co-author Professor Dustin Marshall added: “Warmer temperatures may increase metabolic rates, which could increase the indirect costs of reproduction. This could lead to smaller offspring and have implications for population renewal in a warming world.”

picture 👀 Mabel Amber, who wants one day on Pixabay