A Keystone Mutualism Drives Pattern in a Power Function

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Science  17 Feb 2006:
Vol. 311, Issue 5763, pp. 1000-1002
DOI: 10.1126/science.1121432

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Data that can be described by a power function are ubiquitous in nature. Although there is consensus that such data frequently emerge generally from nonlinear complex systems, a variety of specific mechanisms may be responsible for creating the pattern in particular cases. Here, we report on the distribution of a scale insect (Coccus viridis) that is a common agricultural pest. Its distribution in an organic coffee farm in southern Mexico generally follows a power function, but there are subtle deviations from that function. We offer a biological explanation for both adherence to the power functions and associated deviations, along with supporting evidence.

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