Department of Systems & Computational Biology


Growth dynamics and scaling laws across levels of organization 


Ian Hatton, Ph.D. 

                                                             Monday, November 23, 2015

Price 251 



Abstract: This will be an overview of recent findings on quantitative growth patterns that are general across diverse taxa, and recur across distinct levels of organization. From cell replication through ontogeny, to population reproduction, and whole community production across ecosystems, empirical growth vs. mass relations follow highly robust near 3/4 scaling laws. A recent Science article shows similar scaling recurs across >2000 terrestrial and aquatic ecosystems globally, implying that growth vs. mass follows a simple and often highly regular pattern in very different kinds of systems. The dynamics of these distinct levels of organization are necessarily connected, yet their near 3/4 scaling can be shown to arise independently. This implies that basic aspects of the dynamics of living systems may not depend on system-specific properties, but more abstract properties that are common across levels. I will outline some directions to explore commonalities and connections across hierarchical systems that may help to advance theory. 


Relevant paper: Hatton, I. A., et. al. 2015. The predator-prey power law: Biomass scaling across terrestrial and aquatic biomes. Science, 349, 6252 

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