There seems to be an inverse relationship between the size of an animal species and its local abundance. Here I describe the interspecific seating of population density and body mass among mammalian primary consumers (herbivores, broadly defined). Density is related approximately reciprocally to individual metabolic requirements, indicating that the energy used by the local population of a species in the community is independent of its body size. I suggest that this is a more general rule of community structure.
This is a preview of subscription content, access via your institution
Subscribe to this journal
Receive 51 print issues and online access
$199.00 per year
only $3.90 per issue
Rent or buy this article
Prices vary by article type
Prices may be subject to local taxes which are calculated during checkout
Similar content being viewed by others
Van Valen, L. Evol. Theory 4, 33–44 (1978).
Brownlee, K. A. Statistical Theory and Methodology in Science and Engineering 2nd edn (Wiley, New York, 1965).
Kleiber, M. The Fire of Life 2nd edn (Krieger, New York, 1975).
Hemmingsen, A. M. Rep. Steno meml Hosp. 4, 7–58 (1950).
Brody, S. Bioenergetics and Growth (Reinhold, New York, 1945).
Chew, R. M. & Chew, A. E. Ecol. Monogr. 40, 1–21 (1970).
Gessaman, J. A. in Ecological Energetics of Homeotherms (ed. Gessaman, J. A.) (Utah University Press, 1973).
King, J. R. in Avian Energetics (ed. Paynter, R. A. Jr) (Nuttall Ornithological Club, Massachusetts, 1974).
McKay, G. M. Smithson. Contr. Zool. 125, 1–113 (1973).
Moen, A. N. Wildlife Ecology: an Analytical Approach (Freeman, San Francisco, 1973).
Mullen, R. K. Comp. Biochem. Physiol. 39, 379–390 (1971).
Mullen, R. K. & Chew, R. M. Ecology 54, 633–637 (1973).
Nagy, K. A. & Milton, K. Ecology 60, 475–480 (1979).
Odum, E. P. Fundamentals of Ecology 3rd edn (Saunders, Philadelphia, 1971).
Fenchel, T. Oecologia 14, 317–326 (1974).
Western, D. Afr. J. Ecol. 17, 185–204 (1978).
Case, T. J. Q. Rev. Biol. 53, 243–282 (1978).
About this article
Cite this article
Damuth, J. Population density and body size in mammals. Nature 290, 699–700 (1981). https://doi.org/10.1038/290699a0
This article is cited by
Patterns of enrichment and acceleration in evolutionary rates of promoters suggest a role of regulatory regions in cetacean gigantism
BMC Ecology and Evolution (2023)
The molecular evolution of genes previously associated with large sizes reveals possible pathways to cetacean gigantism
Scientific Reports (2023)
Nature Climate Change (2023)