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The Predator-Prey Power Law: Biomass Scaling Across Terrestrial and Aquatic Biomes

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A surprisingly general pattern at very large scales casts light on the link between ecosystem structure and function. We show a robust scaling law that emerges uniquely at the level of whole ecosystems and is conserved across terrestrial and aquatic biomes worldwide. This pattern describes the changing structure and productivity of the predator-prey biomass pyramid, which represents the biomass of communities at different levels of the food chain. Scaling exponents of the relation between predator versus prey biomass and community production versus biomass are often near ¾, which indicates that very different communities of species exhibit similar high-level structure and function. This recurrent community growth pattern is remarkably similar to individual growth patterns and may hint at a basic process that reemerges across levels of organization.

Document: The-Predator-Prey-Power-Law.pdf  PDF icon

Author(s): Ian A. Hatton, Kevin S. McCann, John M. Fryxell, T. Jonathan Davies, Matteo Smerlak, Anthony R. E. Sinclair, Michel Loreau

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