Experimental testing of dynamic energy budget models

E.G. Noonburg, R.M. Nisbet, E. McCauley, William Gurney

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36 Citations (Scopus)


Dynamic energy budget (DEB) models describing the allocation of assimilate to the competing processes of growth, reproduction and maintenance in individual organisms have been applied to a variety of species with some success. There are two contrasting model formulations based on dynamic allocation rules that have been widely used (net production and net assimilation formulations). However, the predictions of these two classes of DEB models are not easily distinguished on the basis of simple growth and fecundity data.

It is shown that different assumptions incorporated in the rules determining allocation to growth and reproduction in two classes of commonly applied DEB models predict qualitatively distinct patterns for an easily measured variable, cumulative reproduction by the time an individual reaches an arbitrary size.

A comparison with experimental data from Daphnia pulex reveals that, in their simplest form, neither model predicts the observed qualitative pattern of reproduction, despite the fact that both formulations capture basic growth features.

An examination of more elaborate versions of the two models, in which the allocation rules are modified to account for brief periods of starvation experienced in the laboratory cultures, reveals that a version of the net production model can predict the qualitative pattern seen for cumulative eggs as a function of mass in D. pulex. The analysis leads to new predictions which can be easily tested with further laboratory experiments.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)211-222
Number of pages11
JournalFunctional Ecology
Issue number2
Publication statusPublished - Apr 1998


  • experimental testing
  • dynamic energy budget models
  • daphnia
  • reproduction
  • physiological ecology
  • individual growth
  • energy allocation


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