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Keywords:

  • Allometry;
  • community ecology;
  • plant size;
  • stem diameter

Abstract

We show that explicit mathematical and biological relationships exist among the scaling exponents and the allometric constants (α and β, respectively) of log–log linear tree-community size frequency distributions, plant density NT, and minimum, maximum and average stem diameters (Dmin, Dmax, and inline image, respectively). As individuals grow in size and Dmax increases, NT is predicted to decrease as reflected by a decrease in the numerical value of α and an increase in the value of β. Our derivations further show that NT decreases as inline image increases even if Dmin or Dmax remain unchanged. Because Dmax and the age of the largest individuals in a community are correlated, albeit weakly, we argue that the interdependent relationships among the numerical values of α, β, NT, and inline image shed light on the extent to which communities have experienced recent global disturbance. These predicted relationships receive strong statistical support using two large datasets spanning a broad spectrum of tree-dominated communities.