Allometric scaling of production and life-history variation in vascular plants

Brian Enquist, Geoffrey B. West, Eric L. Charnov, James H. Brown

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

428 Citations (Scopus)

Abstract

A prominent feature of comparative life histories is the well documented negative correlation between growth rate and life span. Patterns of resource allocation during growth and reproduction reflect life-history differences between species. This is particularly striking in tropical forests, where tree species can differ greatly in their rates of growth and ages of maturity but still attain similar canopy sizes. Here we provide a theoretical framework for relating life-history variables to rates of production, dM/dt, where M is above-ground mass and t is time. As metabolic rate limits production as an individual grows, dM/dt proportional to M(3/4). Incorporating interspecific variation in resource allocation to wood density, we derive a universal growth law that quantitatively fits data for a large sample of tropical tree species with diverse life histories. Combined with evolutionary life-history theory, the growth law also predicts several qualitative features of tree demography and reproduction. This framework also provides a general quantitative answer to why relative growth rate (1/M)(dM/df) decreases with increasing plant size (proportional to M(-1/4)) and how it varies with differing allocation strategies.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)907-911
Number of pages5
JournalNature
Volume401
Issue number6756
DOIs
StatePublished - Oct 28 1999
Externally publishedYes

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vascular plant
life history
resource allocation
life history theory
evolutionary theory
interspecific variation
demography
tropical forest
canopy
rate

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • General

Cite this

Allometric scaling of production and life-history variation in vascular plants. / Enquist, Brian; West, Geoffrey B.; Charnov, Eric L.; Brown, James H.

In: Nature, Vol. 401, No. 6756, 28.10.1999, p. 907-911.

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

Enquist, Brian ; West, Geoffrey B. ; Charnov, Eric L. ; Brown, James H. / Allometric scaling of production and life-history variation in vascular plants. In: Nature. 1999 ; Vol. 401, No. 6756. pp. 907-911.
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