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Scaling and Zipf's Law in Ecological Size Spectra


  • Juan Camacho
  • Ricard V. Solé


Size distributions in some ecosystems follow a power (Zipf-) law behavior spanning up to two ten decades. A model for the origins of this scaling behavior is presented. The model shows that the intrinsic dynamics of the system leads to a power law distribution, , with , in agreement with field data. We assume that each individual is eventually the predator of any smaller individual, thereby connecting all elements in the food web among themselves. We consider reproduction and death coming from predation and natural death. It is shown that the most important mechanism generating the exponent is predation.

Suggested Citation

  • Juan Camacho & Ricard V. Solé, 1999. "Scaling and Zipf's Law in Ecological Size Spectra," Working Papers 99-12-076, Santa Fe Institute.
  • Handle: RePEc:wop:safiwp:99-12-076

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    References listed on IDEAS

    1. Christoph Flamm & Walter Fontana & Ivo L. Hofacker & Peter Schuster, 1999. "RNA Folding at Elementary Step Resolution," Working Papers 99-12-078, Santa Fe Institute.
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    Scaling; Zipf's law; biomass distributions; ecological systems;

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