Scaling and power-laws in ecological systems
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Scaling relationships (where body size features as the independent variable) and power-law distributions are commonly reported in ecological systems. In this review we analyze scaling relationships related to energy acquisition and transformation and power-laws related to fluctuations in numbers. Our aim is to show how individual level attributes can help to explain and predict patterns at the level of populations that can propagate at upper levels of organization. We review similar relationships also appearing in the analysis of aquatic ecosystems (i.e. the biomass spectra) in the context of ecological invariant relationships (i.e. independent of size) such as the 'energetic equivalence rule' and the 'linear biomass hypothesis'. We also discuss some power-law distributions emerging in the analysis of numbers and fluctuations in ecological attributes as they point to regularities that are yet to be integrated with traditional scaling relationships and which we foresee as an exciting area of future research.