Taylor's Power Law: Order and Pattern in Nature is a broad synthesis of this ubiquitous property of natural and man-made phenomena. This stimulating and approachable work surveys the biological and non-biological empirical data, describes the statistical uses of Taylor's power law (TPL) and its relationship to statistical distributions, exposes the mathematical connections to other power laws, covers the competing explanatory models; and develops an argument for TPL's genesis.
Taylor's power law relates the variability of a process or population to its average value. It was first described in relation to insect populations and then more broadly to other animal and plant populations. Subsequently it has been recognized in microbiology, genetics, economics, astronomy, physics, and computer science, and it is thought to be one of the few general laws in ecology where it is routinely used to describe the spatial and temporal distributions of populations.
Biologists who know the law as Taylor's power law and physical scientists who know it as fluctuation scaling will be interested in the bigger picture on this fascinating subject. As the relationship between variance and mean is found in so wide a range of disciplines, it seems possible it is a deep property of number, not just a phenomenon in ecology as was thought originally. Although theories abound that purport to explain or predict TPL, none is entirely satisfactory either because it fails to be very predictive, or it does not account for all the available empirical data. To uncover such a property requires a synthesis across disciplines, an acute need that is approached by this exciting work.
- Provides a single reference describing the properties, scope, and limitations of Taylor's power law
- Reports the empirical, analytical, and theoretical work without opinion and ends with a critique of the work in order to develop a synthesis
- Collects together thoughts and suggestions of the hundreds who have written and speculated about Taylor's power law in order to review examples (and counter-examples), as well as examine the various models developed to account for it
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1. Introduction Part I 2. Spatial pattern 3. Measuring aggregation 4. Fitting TPL Part II 5. Microorganisms 6. Plants 7. Nematodes and other worms 8. Insects and other arthropods 9. Other invertebrates 10. Vertebrates 11. Other biological examples 12. Nonbiological examples 13. Counter examples Part III 14. Applications of TPL 15. Properties of TPL 16. Allometry and other power laws 17. Modeling TPL 18. Summary and synthesis 19. Epilogue
Dr. Taylor is a population ecologist and systems scientist interested in resource conservation and environmentally safe insect pest control, and has worked and published on Taylor's power law for many years. With Dr. Andrew Chapple, he modeled the pesticide dose-transfer process to better understand pesticide delivery, which led to the award of two patents. Other research analyzed and modeled invasive insect populations: Gypsy moth, Japanese beetle, and emerald ash borer. He now leads the EPIC modeling group at Texas A&M, which assesses agriculture's impact on the environment and is being expanded to assess the economic and environmental cost-benefit of insect pest management strategies. Educated in Zoology, Applied Entomology, and Theoretical Ecology, he has published in peer-reviewed literature for nearly four decades and has been an Elected Fellow of the Linnaean Society of London since 1987.