Skip to main content

Thank you for visiting You are using a browser version with limited support for CSS. To obtain the best experience, we recommend you use a more up to date browser (or turn off compatibility mode in Internet Explorer). In the meantime, to ensure continued support, we are displaying the site without styles and JavaScript.


Plants on a different scale

A Correction to this article was published on 22 February 2006

Is there a unified theory that relates size and metabolic rate across all organisms? Maybe not, according to the results of experiments that measured respiration in plants of widely varying mass.

This is a preview of subscription content, access via your institution

Relevant articles

Open Access articles citing this article.

Access options

Buy article

Get time limited or full article access on ReadCube.


All prices are NET prices.

Figure 1: Little and large in the plant world.


Figure 2: Metabolism and mass.


  1. Reich, P. B., Tjoelker, M. G., Machado, J.-L. & Oleksyn, J. Nature 439, 457–461 (2006).

    ADS  CAS  Article  Google Scholar 

  2. West, G. B., Brown, J. H. & Enquist, B. J. Science 276, 122–126 (1997).

    CAS  Article  Google Scholar 

  3. Enquist, B. J., Brown, J. H. & West, G. B. Nature 395, 163–165 (1998).

    ADS  CAS  Article  Google Scholar 

  4. Brown, J. H. et al. Ecology 85, 1771–1789 (2004).

    ADS  Article  Google Scholar 

  5. Kleiber, M. Hilgardia 6, 315–353 (1932).

    CAS  Article  Google Scholar 

  6. Hemmingsen, A. M. Rep. Steno Meml Hosp. Nordisk Inst. Lab. 9, 6–110 (1960).

    Google Scholar 

  7. Smil, V. Nature 403, 597 (2000).

    ADS  CAS  Article  Google Scholar 

  8. Kozlowski, J. & Konarzewski, M. Funct. Ecol. 18, 283–289 (2004).

    Article  Google Scholar 

  9. Cyr, H. & Walker, S. C. Ecology 85, 1802–1804 (2004).

    Article  Google Scholar 

  10. White, C. R. & Seymour, R. S. Proc. Natl Acad. Sci. USA 100, 4046–4049 (2003).

    ADS  CAS  Article  Google Scholar 

  11. Rubner, M. Z. Biol. 19, 536–562 (1883).

    Google Scholar 

  12. Midgley, J. J. Trends Ecol. Evol. 18, 5–6 (2003).

    Article  Google Scholar 

  13. Li, H. T., Han, X. G. & Wu, J. G. J. Integr. Plant Biol. 47, 1173–1183 (2005).

    Article  Google Scholar 

  14. Gillooly, J. F., Brown, J. H., West, G. B., Savage, V. M. & Charnov, E. L. Science 293, 2248–2251 (2001).

    ADS  CAS  Article  Google Scholar 

  15. Yoda, K., Kiara, T., Igawa, H. & Hozumi, K. J. Biol. Osaka City Univ. 14, 107–129 (2003).

    Google Scholar 

  16. Chapin, F. S. Annu. Rev. Ecol. Syst. 11, 233–260 (1980).

    CAS  Article  Google Scholar 

  17. Elser, J. J. et al. Ecol. Lett. 6, 936–943 (2003).

    Article  Google Scholar 

Download references

Author information

Authors and Affiliations


Rights and permissions

Reprints and Permissions

About this article

Cite this article

Hedin, L. Plants on a different scale. Nature 439, 399–400 (2006).

Download citation

  • Published:

  • Issue Date:

  • DOI:

Further reading


Quick links

Nature Briefing

Sign up for the Nature Briefing newsletter — what matters in science, free to your inbox daily.

Get the most important science stories of the day, free in your inbox. Sign up for Nature Briefing