FCE LTER Journal Articles


Ecological scaling laws link individual body size variation to population abundance fluctuation.


Scaling research has seen remarkable progress in the past several decades. Many scaling relationships were discovered within and across individual and population levels, such as species–abundance relationship, Taylor's law, and density mass allometry. However none of these established patterns incorporate individual variation in the formulation. Individual body size variation is a key evolutionary phenomenon and closely related to ecological diversity and species adaptation. Using a macroecological approach, I test 57 Long-Term Ecological Research data sets and show that a power-law and a generalized power-law function describe well the mean-variance scaling of individual body mass. This relationship connects Taylor's law and density mass allometry, and leads to a new scaling pattern between the individual body size variation and population abundance fluctuation, which is confirmed using freshwater fish and forest tree data. Underlying mechanisms and implications of the proposed scaling relationships are discussed. This synthesis shows that integration and extension of existing ecological laws can lead to the discovery of new scaling patterns and complete our understanding of the relation between individual trait and population abundance.


This material is based upon work supported by the National Science Foundation through the Florida Coastal Everglades Long-Term Ecological Research program under Cooperative Agreements #DEB-1237517, #DBI-0620409, and #DEB-9910514. Any opinions, findings, conclusions, or recommendations expressed in the material are those of the author(s) and do not necessarily reflect the views of the National Science Foundation.



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