On the scaling of activity in tropical forest mammals

Bruno Cid, Chris Carbone, Fernando A.S. Fernandez, Patrick A. Jansen, J.M. Rowcliffe, Timothy O'Brien, Emmanuel Akampurira, Robert Bitariho, Santiago Espinosa, Krishna Gajapersad, Thiago M.R. Santos, André L.S. Gonçalves, Margaret F. Kinnaird, Marcela G.M. Lima, Emanuel Martin, Badru Mugerwa, Francesco Rovero, Julia Salvador, Fernanda Santos, Wilson R. SpironelloSoraya Wijntuin, Luiz Gustavo R. Oliveira-Santos*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleAcademicpeer-review


Activity range – the amount of time spent active per day – is a fundamental aspect contributing to the optimization process by which animals achieve energetic balance. Based on their size and the nature of their diet, theoretical expectations are that larger carnivores need more time active to fulfil their energetic needs than do smaller ones and also more time active than similar-sized non-carnivores. Despite the relationship between daily activity, individual range and energy acquisition, large-scale relationships between activity range and body mass among wild mammals have never been properly addressed. This study aimed to understand the scaling of activity range with body mass, while controlling for phylogeny and diet. We built simple empirical predictions for the scaling of activity range with body mass for mammals of different trophic guilds and used a phylogenetically controlled mixed model to test these predictions using activity records of 249 mammal populations (128 species) in 19 tropical forests (in 15 countries) obtained using camera traps. Our scaling model predicted a steeper scaling of activity range in carnivores (0.21) with higher levels of activity (higher intercept), and near-zero scaling in herbivores (0.04). Empirical data showed that activity ranges scaled positively with body mass for carnivores (0.061), which also had higher intercept value, but not for herbivores, omnivores and insectivores, in general, corresponding with the predictions. Despite the many factors that shape animal activity at local scales, we found a general pattern showing that large carnivores need more time active in a day to meet their energetic demands.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)668-676
Issue number5
Early online date13 Jan 2020
Publication statusPublished - May 2020


  • activity behavior
  • body mass
  • camera traps
  • diet
  • energy budget
  • predation risk

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    Cid, B., Carbone, C., Fernandez, F. A. S., Jansen, P. A., Rowcliffe, J. M., O'Brien, T., Akampurira, E., Bitariho, R., Espinosa, S., Gajapersad, K., Santos, T. M. R., Gonçalves, A. L. S., Kinnaird, M. F., Lima, M. G. M., Martin, E., Mugerwa, B., Rovero, F., Salvador, J., Santos, F., ... Oliveira-Santos, L. G. R. (2020). On the scaling of activity in tropical forest mammals. Oikos, 129(5), 668-676. https://doi.org/10.1111/oik.07022