An integrative framework for stochastic, size-structured community assembly

J. P. O'Dwyer, J. K. Lake, A. Ostling, V. M. Savage, J. L. Green

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


We present a theoretical framework to describe stochastic, size-structured community assembly, and use this framework to make community-level ecological predictions. Our model can be thought of as adding biological realism to Neutral Biodiversity Theory by incorporating size variation and growth dynamics, and allowing demographic rates to depend on the sizes of individuals. We find that the species abundance distribution (SAD) is insensitive to the details of the size structure in our model, demonstrating that the SAD is a poor indicator of size-dependent processes. We also derive the species biomass distribution (SBD) and find that the form of the SBD depends on the underlying size structure. This leads to a prescription for testing multiple, intertwined ecological predictions of the model, and provides evidence that alternatives to the traditional SAD are more closely tied to certain ecological processes. Finally, we describe how our framework may be extended to make predictions for more general types of community structure.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)6170-6175
Number of pages6
JournalProceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America
Issue number15
StatePublished - Apr 14 2009
Externally publishedYes


  • Allometry
  • Complex systems
  • Ecological drift
  • Neutral theory

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • General


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