Physiological and Ecological Consequences of Extreme Body Size in Whales


in Whales, Whaling, and Ocean Ecosystems

Published by University of California Press

Published in print January 2007 | ISBN: 9780520248847
Published online March 2012 | e-ISBN: 9780520933200 | DOI:
Physiological and Ecological Consequences of Extreme Body Size in Whales

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This chapter examines some of the key physiological and physical limitations that dictate maximum body size in mammals. Rather than focus on the selective pressures that may have driven the evolution of extreme body size, this chapter addresses the capacity of physiological processes to support large mammalian forms. With physiological requirements and capacities established, the ecological consequences of large predators within an ecosystem can then be assessed. It presents an example for the killer whale (Orcinus orca), which is one of the largest hunting odontocetes besides the sperm whale (Physeter macrocephalus) and has been implicated in the decline of marine mammal populations in the Aleutian archipelago and the southern oceans.

Keywords: maximum body size; mammal body size; sperm whale; killer whale; Aleutian archipelago

Chapter.  7106 words.  Illustrated.

Subjects: Aquatic Biology

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