Analytic theories of allometric scaling.
During the 13 years since it was first advanced, the fractal network theory (FNT), an analytic theory of allometric scaling, has been subjected to a wide range of methodological, mathematical and empirical criticisms, not all of which have been answered satisfactorily. FNT presumes a two-variable power-law relationship between metabolic rate and body mass. This assumption has been widely accepted in the past, but a growing body of evidence during the past quarter century has raised questions about its general validity. There is now a need for alternative theories of metabolic scaling that are consistent with empirical observations over a broad range of biological applications. In this article, we briefly review the limitations of FNT, examine the evidence that the two-variable power-law assumption is invalid, and outline alternative perspectives. In particular, we discuss quantum metabolism (QM), an analytic theory based on molecular-cellular processes. QM predicts the large variations in scaling exponent that are found empirically and also predicts the temperature dependence of the proportionality constant, issues that have eluded models such as FNT that are based on macroscopic and network properties of organisms.