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Global Biodiversity, Biochemical Kinetics, and the Energetic-Equivalence Rule

Science  30 Aug 2002:
Vol. 297, Issue 5586, pp. 1545-1548
DOI: 10.1126/science.1072380

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Abstract

The latitudinal gradient of increasing biodiversity from poles to equator is one of the most prominent but least understood features of life on Earth. Here we show that species diversity can be predicted from the biochemical kinetics of metabolism. We first demonstrate that the average energy flux of populations is temperature invariant. We then derive a model that quantitatively predicts how species diversity increases with environmental temperature. Predictions are supported by data for terrestrial, freshwater, and marine taxa along latitudinal and elevational gradients. These results establish a thermodynamic basis for the regulation of species diversity and the organization of ecological communities.

  • * To whom correspondence should be addressed. E-mail: drewa{at}unm.edu

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