Weitz Group @ Georgia Tech Theoretical Ecology and Quantitative Biology



New paper on scaling and structure of plant leaf networks (Ecology Letters, 2012)

Posted by jsweitz

Former postdoc, Charles A. Price, is the lead author, with Joshua S. Weitz and Scott Wing (Smithsonian Institute) on a new Ecology Letters paper: Scaling and structure of dicotyledonous leaf venation networks . We used our publically available LEAF GUI software to measure the dimensions and connectivity of >4,000,000 individual veins from 353 leaves representing 72 angiosperm families. We found that, although vein diameter distributions exhibit a power law behavior consistent with a scale-free (fractal-like) design, many aspects of leaf network geometry, in particular vein length distributions, are more consistent with a characteristic scale (exponential) distribution. Moreover, several other aspects of leaf form are consistent with a characteristic scale, namely the mean vein length, the mean distance within areoles to the nearest vein and the vein density. These results highlight the importance of the empirical validation of the actual geometry of physical networks in plants, and suggest a need to revisit optimal theories of network.