, Volume 139, Issue 4, pp 568–571

The contribution of small individuals to density-body size relationships: examination of energetic equivalence in reef fishes

  • John L. Ackerman
  • David R. Bellwood
  • James H. Brown
Community Ecology

DOI: 10.1007/s00442-004-1536-0

Cite this article as:
Ackerman, J.L., Bellwood, D.R. & Brown, J.H. Oecologia (2004) 139: 568. doi:10.1007/s00442-004-1536-0


A key relationship in ecology is that between density and body size, with the emphasis placed on energetic rules constraining the abundance of larger organisms below that of smaller organisms. Most studies have focused upon the density-body size relationship at the species level. However, energy is gathered at an individual level. We therefore examined this relationship in a coral reef fish assemblage, focusing on individuals. Using a comprehensive data set, with over 14,000 observations we found that the relationship between local density and adult body size differs from the linear relationship predicted by the ‘energetic equivalence rule’. However, excluding the smallest size classes, the relationship between body size and individual abundance for intermediate to larger fish did not depart from the predicted −0.75. Unlike plants and intermediate to large reef fishes, the smallest fishes appear to have constraints that may reflect different patterns of resource acquisition.



Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag 2004

Authors and Affiliations

  • John L. Ackerman
    • 1
    • 2
    • 5
  • David R. Bellwood
    • 2
    • 3
  • James H. Brown
    • 4
  1. 1.Marine and Freshwater SystemsDepartment of Primary IndustriesQueenscliffAustralia
  2. 2.Department of Marine BiologyJames Cook UniversityAustralia
  3. 3.Centre for Coral Reef BiodiversityJames Cook UniversityAustralia
  4. 4.Department of BiologyUniversity of New MexicoAlbuquerqueUSA
  5. 5.School of Botany and ZoologyThe Australian National UniversityCanberraAustralia