One hypothesis for why insects are smaller than vertebrates is that the blind-ended tracheal respiratory system challenges oxygen delivery for larger insects. Supporting this hypothesis, several studies have documented that larger insect species have larger gas transport structures than expected by isometric scaling. To further test this hypothesis, we performed the first inter-specific study of the scaling of spiracle size, using ten scarab beetle species, including some of the most massive insects. Using micro-CT, we measured the cross sectional area and depth of all eight spiracles.
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