Dominance of the suppressed: Power-law size structure in tropical forests

C. E. Farrior, S. A. Bohlman, S. Hubbell, Stephen Wilson Pacala

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

89 Scopus citations


Tropical tree size distributions are remarkably consistent despite differences in the environments that support them. With data analysis and theory, we found a simple and biologically intuitive hypothesis to explain this property, which is the foundation of forest dynamics modeling and carbon storage estimates. After a disturbance, new individuals in the forest gap grow quickly in full sun until they begin to overtop one another. The two-dimensional space-filling of the growing crowns of the tallest individuals relegates a group of losing, slow-growing individuals to the understory. Those left in the understory follow a power-law size distribution, the scaling of which depends on only the crown area-to-diameter allometry exponent: a well-conserved value across tropical forests.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)155-157
Number of pages3
Issue number6269
StatePublished - Jan 8 2016

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • General


Dive into the research topics of 'Dominance of the suppressed: Power-law size structure in tropical forests'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this