A general model for the origin of allometric scaling laws in biology

Geoffrey B. West, James H. Brown, Brian J. Enquist

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

3524 Scopus citations


Allometric scaling relations, including the 3/4 power law for metabolic rates, are characteristic of all organisms and are here derived from a general model that describes how essential materials are transported through space-filling fractal networks of branching tubes. The model assumes that the energy dissipated is minimized and that the terminal tubes do not vary with body size. It provides a complete analysis of scaling relations for mammalian circulatory systems that are in agreement with data. More generally, the model predicts structural and functional properties of vertebrate cardiovascular and respiratory systems, plant vascular systems, insect tracheal tubes, and other distribution networks.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)122-126
Number of pages5
Issue number5309
StatePublished - Apr 4 1997

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • General


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