Population fluctuations, power laws and mixtures of lognormal distributions

A. P. Allen*, B. L. Li, E. L. Charnov

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

57 Citations (Scopus)


A number of investigators have invoked a cascading local interaction model to account for power-law-distributed fluctuations in ecological variables. Invoking such a model requires that species be tightly coupled, and that local interactions among species influence ecosystem dynamics over a broad range of scales. Here we reanalyse bird population data used by Keitt & Stanley (1998, Dynamics of North American breeding bird populations. Nature, 393, 257-260) to support a cascading local interaction model. We find that the power law they report can be attributed to mixing of lognormal distributions. More tentatively, we propose that mixing of distributions accounts for other empirical power laws reported in the ecological literature.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1-3
Number of pages3
JournalEcology Letters
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - 2001
Externally publishedYes


  • Bird population dynamics
  • Power laws
  • Self-organised criticality


Dive into the research topics of 'Population fluctuations, power laws and mixtures of lognormal distributions'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this