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Title: Proximate determinants of Taylor's law slopes

Taylor's law (TL), a commonly observed and applied pattern in ecology, describes variances of population densities as related to mean densities via log(variance) = log(a) + b*log(mean). Variations among datasets in the slope,b, have been associated with multiple factors of central importance in ecology, including strength of competitive interactions and demographic rates. But these associations are not transparent, and the relative importance of these and other factors for TL slope variation is poorly studied. TL is thus a ubiquitously used indicator in ecology, the understanding of which is still opaque.

The goal of this study was to provide tools to help fill this gap in understanding by providingproximate determinants of TL slopes, statistical quantities that are correlated to TL slopes but are simpler than the slope itself and are more readily linked to ecological factors.

Using numeric simulations and 82 multi‐decadal population datasets, we here propose, test and apply two proximate statistical determinants of TL slopes which we argue can become key tools for understanding the nature and ecological causes of TL slope variation.

We find that measures based on population skewness, coefficient of variation and synchrony are effective proximate determinants. We demonstrate their potential for application by using them to help explain covariation in slopes of spatial and temporal TL (two common types of TL).

This study provides tools for understanding TL, and demonstrates their usefulness.

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Award ID(s):
1657887 1714195
Author(s) / Creator(s):
 ;  ;  ;  ;  ;
Publisher / Repository:
Date Published:
Journal Name:
Journal of Animal Ecology
Page Range / eLocation ID:
p. 484-494
Medium: X
Sponsoring Org:
National Science Foundation
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