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A general model for the origin of allometric scaling laws in biology.

Allometric scaling relations, including the 3/4 power law for metabolic rates, are characteristic of all organisms and are here derived from a general model that describes how essential materials are transported through space-filling fractal networks of branching tubes. The model assumes that the energy dissipated is minimized and that the terminal tubes do not vary with body size. It provides a complete analysis of scaling relations for mammalian circulatory systems that are in agreement with data. More generally, the model predicts structural and functional properties of vertebrate cardiovascular and respiratory systems, plant vascular systems, insect tracheal tubes, and other distribution networks.

Pubmed ID: 9082983


  • West GB
  • Brown JH
  • Enquist BJ


Science (New York, N.Y.)

Publication Data

April 4, 1997

Associated Grants


Mesh Terms

  • Animals
  • Body Constitution
  • Body Weight
  • Cardiovascular Physiological Phenomena
  • Cardiovascular System
  • Fractals
  • Hemodynamics
  • Humans
  • Metabolism
  • Models, Anatomic
  • Models, Biological
  • Models, Cardiovascular
  • Pulsatile Flow
  • Respiratory Physiological Phenomena