, 25:275 | Cite as

Benford’s law applied to aerobiological data and its potential as a quality control tool

  • Silvia Docampo
  • María del Mar Trigo
  • María Jesús Aira
  • Baltasar Cabezudo
  • Antonio Flores-MoyaEmail author
Original Paper


Benford’s phenomenological law gives the expected frequencies of the first significant digits of any given series of numbers. According to this law, the frequency of 1 is higher than that of 2; this in turn appears more often 3, and so on. Similarly, Benford’s law can also be applied to the first two significant digits (i.e., from 10 to 99), and so on. Here, we show that gross data sets of daily pollen counts from three aerobiological stations (located in European cities with different features regarding vegetation and climatology) fit Benford’s law for the first significant digits, but this is not always true for the data transformed by a correction factor used in aerobiological studies. That is to say, the biases introduced by rounding and lower and upper built-in limits in pollen counts are detected by Benford’s law analysis. The analysis of the first two significant digits from transformed data is better explained by a Power law than Benford’s law. We propose that Benford’s law could be used as a quality control tool for numerical aerobiological data sets.


Aerobiology Benford’s law Leading digit phenomenon Power law Quality control 



This work was financially supported by the Science and Education Ministry (project CGL2006-12648-C03-03/BOS) and the Andalusian Regional Government (projects P06-RNM 02034 and P05-RNM 00935). The aerobiological study of Ourense was supported by the Regional Government of Galicia (Health and Environmental Departments). Dr Eric C. Henry (Herbarium, Department of Botany and Plant Pathology, Oregon State University) kindly revised the English style and usage. Dr. Marta Recio and Marta Melgar helped to collect data from Málaga and Münster.


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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media B.V. 2009

Authors and Affiliations

  • Silvia Docampo
    • 1
  • María del Mar Trigo
    • 1
  • María Jesús Aira
    • 2
  • Baltasar Cabezudo
    • 1
  • Antonio Flores-Moya
    • 1
    Email author
  1. 1.Departamento de Biología Vegetal (Botánica), Facultad de CienciasUniversidad de MálagaMálagaSpain
  2. 2.Departamento de Botánica, Facultad de FarmaciaUniversidad de Santiago de CompostelaSantiago de Compostela, A CoruñaSpain

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