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Trends Ecol Evol. 2007 Jun;22(6):323-30. Epub 2007 Mar 30.

Relationships between body size and abundance in ecology.

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Department of Biology and the Ecology Center, Utah State University, Logan, UT 84322, USA.


Body size is perhaps the most fundamental property of an organism and is related to many biological traits, including abundance. The relationship between abundance and body size has been extensively studied in an attempt to quantify the form of the relationship and to understand the processes that generate it. However, progress has been impeded by the under appreciated fact that there are four distinct, but interrelated, relationships between size and abundance that are often confused in the literature. Here, we review and distinguish between these four patterns, and discuss the linkages between them. We argue that a synthetic understanding of size-abundance relationships will result from more detailed analyses of individual patterns and from careful consideration of how and why the patterns are related.

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