A general model for mass-growth-density relations across tree-dominated communities

Karl J. Niklas, Jeremy J. Midgley, Brian J. Enquist

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

60 Scopus citations


A general allometric scaling model predicts that plant body mass M T will scale as the -4/3 power of plant density N. Here, we show how this model predicts numerous other scaling attributes of plant populations and communities, including annual growth rate GT, standing leaf biomass ML, basal stem diameter D, and above- and below-ground biomass, MSH and MR. These predictions are consistent with the 'Law of Constant Yield' (i.e. productivity is independent of plant density). Analysis of worldwide databases for woody plant-dominated communities spanning seven orders of magnitude in MT and five orders of magnitude in N provides strong support of all of the model's predictions. Our model thus offers a theoretical basis for understanding and predicting the effects of crowding on plant size, growth and biomass partitioning across diverse ecological communities.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)459-468
Number of pages10
JournalEvolutionary Ecology Research
Issue number3
StatePublished - Mar 2003


  • Allometry
  • Plant reproduction
  • Scaling
  • Self-thinning
  • Trees

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Ecology, Evolution, Behavior and Systematics


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