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One law to rule them all -- sizes within a species appear to follow a universal distribution
Date:3/4/2013

p>Taken together, these observations of size distributions within a species and within all the species in a given ecological community have interesting implications. If in an ecosystem several species begin to converge around the same size, a balancing force will kick in to restore the power-law distribution, either by acting on the abundance or size of each species.

If, as Giometto and his co-authors speculate, their observations are valid beyond the species they studied, they may provide additional evidence for the existence of universal laws that govern natural ecosystems. These laws would regulate not only the size and abundance of organisms in an ecosystem, but also other properties, such as the number of species that co-exist.

Finding power-laws and using them to describe complex systems already has a successful track record. "In physics, the observation that systems followed power-laws was instrumental in understanding phase transitions. We believe that power-laws can be similarly helpful to gain a deeper understanding of how systems of living matter work," says Giometto, a physicist, who is seeking to apply methods from his field to understand biological ecosystems.


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Contact: Lionel Pousaz
lionel.pousaz@epfl.ch
41-795-597-161
Ecole Polytechnique Fdrale de Lausanne
Source:Eurekalert

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