Sharks vs. seals: Metabolic power and diversity at sea
Marine endotherms and ectotherms compete and prey upon each other in the ocean. The strong interactions and stark metabolic differences between taxa like sharks and seals beg a simple but important question: what are the ecological consequences of metabolic power? Metabolic asymmetries between endotherms and ectotherms are mediated by water temperature, which dampens differences in tropical waters and amplifies them near the poles. I examine the consequences of metabolic power at multiple scales, from the physiology of muscle contractions to global patterns of dominance and diversity at sea.
As water temperature drop and metabolic differences increase, high–power endotherms diversify and increasingly dominate cold, productive seas.