Dr Chris Kempes, Omidyar Fellow at the Santa Fe Institute
Scaling laws, resource limitations, and biogeographic predictions
Scaling relationships have long been observed in a variety of biological contexts. Recent efforts have shown that these power-law relationships are often due to common constraints operating across a range of scales. However, questions remain about the utility of these relationships for predictive ecology or for describing detailed organism physiology. In this talk I will discuss how we have used the allometric geometry of plants to create a first-order model for predicting the maximum allowable tree height in a given environment. Our framework is able to successfully predict the biogeography of maximum tree height at the continental scale from average meteorology. Furthermore, I will discuss how this framework is able to predict a variety of plant traits and whole-forest features such as standing biomass. Finally, I will connect this work to a larger perspective on organism physiology and architecture across the range of life’s diversity.