Allometric scaling of plant life history

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 −¼ power and plant lifespan as the ¼ 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.

Authors: Núria Marbà, Carlos M. Duarte and Susana Agustí
Source and full article:
http://www.pnas.org/content/104/40/15777.full

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