Papers in the Biological Sciences


Date of this Version



Ecology Letters 10 (2007), pp. 889-901; doi: 10.1111/j.1461-0248.2007.01079.x.


Copyright © 2007 John Wiley & Sons Inc. Used by permission.

A published Corrigendum to this article can be found at


The Metabolic Ecology Model predicts that tree diameter (D) growth (dD/dt) scales with D1/3. Using data on diameter growth and height–diameter relationships for 56 and 40 woody species, respectively, from forests throughout New Zealand, we tested one prediction and two assumptions of this model: (i) the exponent of the growth–diameter scaling relationship equals 1/3 and is invariant among species and growth forms, (ii) small and large individuals are invariant in their exponents and (iii) tree height scales with D2/3. We found virtually no support for any prediction or assumption: growth–diameter scaling exponents varied substantially among species and growth forms, correlated positively with species maximum height, and shifted significantly with increasing individual size. Tree height did not scale invariantly with diameter. Based on a quantitative test, violation of these assumptions alone could not explain the model’s poor fit to our data, possibly reflecting multiple, unsound assumptions, as well as unaccounted-for variation that should be incorporated.