Canonical rules for plant organ biomass partitioning and annual allocation

  • Niklas K
  • Enquist B
  • 178


    Mendeley users who have this article in their library.
  • 93


    Citations of this article.


Here we review a general allometric model for the allometric relationships among standing leaf, stem, and root biomass (M(L), M(S), and M(R), respectively) and the exponents for the relationships among annual leaf, stem, and root biomass production or "growth rates" (G(L), G(S), and G(R), respectively). This model predicts that M(L) ∝ M(S)(3/4) ∝ M(R)(3/4) such that M(S) ∝ M(R) and that G(L) ∝ G(S) ∝ G(R). A large synoptic data set for standing plant organ biomass and organ biomass production spanning ten orders of magnitude in total plant body mass supports these predictions. Although the numerical values for the allometric "constants" governing these scaling relationships differ between angiosperms and conifers, across all species, standing leaf, stem, and root biomass, respectively, comprise 8%, 67%, and 25% of total plant biomass, whereas annual leaf, stem, and root biomass growth represent 30%, 57%, and 13% of total plant growth. Importantly, our analyses of large data sets confirm the existence of scaling exponents predicted by theory. These scaling "rules" emerge from simple biophysical mechanisms that hold across a remarkably broad spectrum of ecologically and phyletically divergent herbaceous and tree-sized monocot, dicot, and conifer species. As such, they are likely to extend into evolutionary history when tracheophytes with the stereotypical "leaf," "stem," and "root" body plan first appeared.

Author-supplied keywords

  • Allometry
  • Biomass allocation
  • Organ biomass
  • Plant growth

Get free article suggestions today

Mendeley saves you time finding and organizing research

Sign up here
Already have an account ?Sign in

Find this document


Cite this document

Choose a citation style from the tabs below

Save time finding and organizing research with Mendeley

Sign up for free