Comparative phylogenetic analysis of milk output at peak lactation

A large body of literature exists on the comparative aspects of milk nutrient concentrations of numerous species. However, in the last three decades little attention has been given to the comparative aspects of quantitative milk output and the related nutrient outputs at peak lactation, one of the most energy demanding times for the lactating female. Therefore, the purpose of the present study was to investigate milk output, milk energy output (MEO) and milk nutrient outputs in mammals at peak lactation using the phylogenetic generalized least squares approach to account for the potential lack of independence among species. Milk output, MEO and output of milk nutrients (solids, fat, protein and sugar) at peak lactation for 47 mammalian species were evaluated for the present analysis to derive phylogenetically controlled allometric relationships for all species available and separately for species with single young and for species with multiple young. A strong (P < 0.001) positive relationship exists between the response variables (milk output, MEO, milk nutrient outputs) and maternal body mass whether calculated for all mammals or separately for species with single or multiple young. The results revealed that milk output and MEO scaled identically to the power of 0.74 ± 0.05 of maternal body mass and thus confirming the quarter-power scaling exponent for milk output and MEO. For most allometric relationships the phylogenetic signal lambda was intermediate (0 < λ < 1) and thus required phylogenetic correction with the exception for the relationships between milk nutrient outputs maternal body mass for species with multiple young.



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