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Growth dynamics and scaling laws across levels of biological organization.



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Recording Details

Collection/Series: 
PIRSA Number: 
16050031

Abstract

Recent findings on quantitative growth patterns have revealed striking generalities across the tree of life, and recurring over distinct levels of organization. Growth-mass relationships in 1) individual growth to maturity, 2) population reproduction, 3) insect colony enlargement and 4) community production across wholeecosystems of very different types, often follow highly robust near ¾ scaling laws. These patterns represent some of the most general relations in biology, but the reasons they are so strangely similar across levels of organization remains a mystery. The dynamics of these distinct levels are connected, yet their scaling can be shown to arise independently, and free of system-specific properties. Numerous experiments in prebiotic chemistry have shown that minimal self-replicating systems that undergo template-directed synthesis, typically show reaction orders (ie. growth-mass exponents) between ½ and 1. I will outline how modifications to these simplified reaction schemes can yield growth-mass exponents near ¾, which may offer insight into dynamical connections across hierarchical systems.