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Open Access item Allometric scaling of plant life history

Authors:Marbà, Núria
Agustí, Susana
Duarte, Carlos M.
Keywords:birth, lifespan, mortality, phototrophic organisms, population growth
Issue Date:2-Oct-2007
Publisher:National Academy of Sciences (U.S.)
Citation:Proceedings National Academy of Science USA 104 (40): 15777–15780
Abstract:Plant mortality and birth rates are critical components of plant life history affecting the stability of plant populations and the ecosystems they form. Although allometric theory predicts that both plant birth and mortality rates should be size-dependent, this prediction has not yet been tested across plants ranging the full size spectrum. Here we show that both population mortality and population birth rates scale as the 1⁄4 power and plant lifespan as the 1⁄4 power of plant mass across plant species spanning from the tiniest phototrophs to the largest trees. Whereas the controls on plant lifespans are as yet poorly understood, our findings suggest that plant mortality rates have evolved to match population birth rates, thereby helping to maintain plant communities in equilibrium and optimizing plant life histories.
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