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Nature. 2007 Feb 1;445(7127):E9-10; discussion E10-1.

Biological scaling: does the exception prove the rule?

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[1] Department of Ecology and Evolutionary Biology, University of Arizona, Tucson, Arizona 85721, USA [2] The Santa Fe Institute, Santa Fe, New Mexico 87501, USA.


Reich et al. report that the whole-plant respiration rate, R, in seedlings scales linearly with plant mass, M, so that R=C(R)M(theta) when theta approximately 1, in which c(R) is the scaling normalization and theta is the scaling exponent. They also state that because nitrogen concentration (N) is correlated with c(R), variation in N is a better predictor of R than M would be. Reich et al. and Hedin incorrectly claim that these "universal" findings question the central tenet of metabolic scaling theory, which they interpret as predicting theta = (3/4), irrespective of the size of the plant. Here we show that these conclusions misrepresent metabolic scaling theory and that their results are actually consistent with this theory.

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