FUNCtional implications of ontogeny

INTRODUCTION:

Throughout their entire lives, animals must be able to successfully accomplish multiple tasks for survival. These animals often occupy the same environment and must compete for the same resources as their adult or juvenile counterparts and therefore, must perform at a reasonably similar level. As an animal grows, they not only increase in size, but also change in shape. These changes in body proportions through the development of animals is known as ontogenetic allometry.

When an animal grows allometrically, an anatomical trait such as leg length changes relative to the rest of the body, which could potentially affect their performance output. Relatively longer legs, for example, may allow an animal to run faster, however if younger animals possess relatively longer legs compared to adults, how may those differences affect the performance of running for a juvenile versus an adult? Additionally, performance in a task itself could be influenced by growth where performance output can decrease as an animal gets bigger due to changes in the power/weight ratio. Therefore, the complex form-function relationships between phenotypic traits and performance of tasks may change throughout ontogeny.


THE MAIN QUESTION:

How does performance in different tasks change throughout ontogeny?


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