MadSci Network: General Biology

Re: Individuals average weight and species population

Date: Tue Aug 28 09:43:26 2001
Posted By: Aydin Orstan, Staff, Office of Food Additive Safety, Food and Drug Administration
Area of science: General Biology
ID: 998643668.Gb

Dear Javier,

Yes, there is indeed an inverse relationship between size and population 
density. In general, small organisms attain greater population densities 
than do larger species. But, as is usually the case with such 
biological "laws", this too is somewhat controversial. The following 
article will tell you more about it.

Marquet, P.A. Invariants, scaling laws, and ecological complexity, 
Science, Volume 289, pp. 1487-1488 (2000).

If you want more technical detail about scaling or allometric relations, I 
recommend these books.

Calder, W.A. Size, function & life history. (Harvard University Press, 
1984) Dover Publications, 1996.

Schmidt-Nielsen, K. Scaling: why is animal size so important? Cambridge 
University Press, 1984.

Burton, R. F. Biology by Numbers. Cambridge University Press, 1998.

The last book by Burton gives a good elementary introduction to the 
mathematics of power laws.

I doubt that there is a database that gives the weights and populations 
(in a given area, of course) of all the known species. I also don't know 
if anyone is actually counting the number of species that have been 
described. Why don't you check out the links at the following address?


Aydin Orstan

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