Annual Report 2001 - Cornell University
003 Selected Faculty Research

14 Discovering Size Matters

Karl J. Niklas, Plant Biology, and University of Arizona colleague used mathematical modeling to show that universal scaling laws apply to the plant world just as they do to the animal kingdom. Scientists have known for more than a century that scaling exists in animals, but only recently have they considered that size matters throughout nature. Niklas discovered a fourth spatial dimension in plants—a relationship of mass to width, length, and depth. Just as a scaled-up giant ant with the same proportions as a smaller counterpart could not function, the same is true for plant life. This discovery could influence environmental and ecological policy and evolutionary biology research. Plant scientists in the future will be able to develop mathematical models to make predictions about standing forest biomass, growth, and related predictions.

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© 2002 by the Office of the Vice Provost for Research [OVPR], Cornell University.

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