Do generalized scaling laws exist for species abundance distribution in mountains?


  • Yuxin Zhang,

  • Keming Ma,

  • Madhur Anand,

  • Bojie Fu

Y. Zhang, K. Ma (mkm@ and B. Fu, State Key Lab of Systems Ecology, Research Center for Eco-Environmental Sciences, Chinese Academy of Sciences, CN-100085 Beijing, PR China. YZ also at: Graduate School of Chinese Academy of Sciences, CN-100039 Beijing 100039, PR China. – YZ and M. Anand, Dept of Biology, Laurentian Univ., 935 Ramsey Lake Road, Sudbury, Ontario, Canada, P3E 2C6. Present address for MA: Dept of Environmental Biology, Univ. of Guelph, Guelph, Ontario, Canada, N1G 2W1.


Knowing the global pattern of species diversity is a central goal of the science of ecology, and scaling laws can be useful for analysis of cross-scale biodiversity patterns. An elevational gradient in a warm temperate zone of the Donglingshan mountains (China) is used to test the scaling laws of species abundance distribution using multifractal analysis. We show that the power law scaling relationship holds for not just the classical SAR (species–area relationship for richness), but also for Shannon and Simpson diversity. In fact, we find power-laws in the generalized species abundance distribution at all stratal levels of the forest (trees, shrubs and herbs). The fact that these laws exist across a heterogeneous landscape representing a strong bioclimatic gradient suggests that biodiversity scaling laws may be more robust than previously thought.