Invariant scaling relationships for interspecific plant biomass production rates and body size

Karl J. Niklas, Brian J. Enquist

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

291 Scopus citations

Abstract

The allometric relationships for plant annualized biomass production ("growth") rates, different measures of body size (dry weight and length), and photosynthetic biomass (or pigment concentration) per plant (or cell) are reported for multicellular and unicellular plants representing three algal phyla; aquatic ferns; aquatic and terrestrial herbaceous dicots; and arborescent monocots, dicots, and conifers. Annualized rates of growth G scale as the 3/4-power of body mass M over 20 orders of magnitude of M (i.e., G x M3/4); plant body length L (i.e., cell length or plant height) scales, on average, as the 1/4-power of M over 22 orders of magnitude of M (i.e., L x Ml/4); and photosynthetic biomass Mp scales as the 3/4-power of nonphotosynthetic biomass Mn (i.e., Mp x Mn3/4). Because these scaling relationships are indifferent to phylogenetic affiliation and habitat, they have far-reaching ecological and evolutionary implications (e.g., net primary productivity is predicted to be largely insensitive to community species composition or geological age).

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)2922-2927
Number of pages6
JournalProceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America
Volume98
Issue number5
DOIs
StatePublished - Feb 27 2001

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