No evidence for the “rate-of-living” theory across the tetrapod tree of life

Gavin Stark*, Daniel Pincheira-Donoso, Shai Meiri

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

28 Citations (Scopus)
650 Downloads (Pure)


The ‘rate‐of‐living’ theory predicts that life expectancy is a negative function of the rates at which organisms metabolize. According to this theory, factors that accelerate metabolic rates, such as high body temperature and active foraging, lead to organismic ‘wear‐out’. This process reduces life span through an accumulation of biochemical errors and the build‐up of toxic metabolic by‐products. Although the rate‐of‐living theory is a keystone underlying our understanding of life‐history trade‐offs, its validity has been recently questioned. The rate‐of‐living theory has never been tested on a global scale in a phylogenetic framework, or across both endotherms and ectotherms. Here, we test several of its fundamental predictions across the tetrapod tree of life.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)857-884
Number of pages28
JournalGlobal Ecology & Biogeography
Issue number5
Early online date14 Feb 2020
Publication statusPublished - May 2020


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