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 journalArticle

47 Scopus citations

Abstract

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
JournalScience
Volume351
Issue number6269
DOIs
StatePublished - Jan 8 2016

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • General

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