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Journal of Biophysics
Volume 2008 (2008), Article ID 654672, 8 pages
Research Article

Roots of Diversity Relations

1Institute of Biotechnology, University of Helsinki, FI-00014 Helsinki, Finland
2Department of Physics, Faculty of Science, University of Helsinki, FI-00014 Helsinki, Finland
3Department of Biological and Environmental Sciences, Faculty of Biosciences, University of Helsinki, FI-00014 Helsinki, Finland

Received 11 April 2008; Revised 24 June 2008; Accepted 28 August 2008

Academic Editor: Claudio M. Soares

Copyright © 2008 Peter Würtz and Arto Annila. This is an open access article distributed under the Creative Commons Attribution License, which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited.


The species-area relationship is one of the central generalizations in ecology; however, its origin has remained a puzzle. Since ecosystems are understood as energy transduction systems, the regularities in species richness are considered to result from ubiquitous imperatives in energy transduction. From a thermodynamic point of view, organisms are transduction mechanisms that distribute an influx of energy down along the steepest gradients to the ecosystem's diverse repositories of chemical energy, that is, populations of species. Transduction machineries, that is, ecosystems assembled from numerous species, may emerge and evolve toward high efficiency on large areas that hold more matter than small ones. This results in the well-known logistic-like relationship between the area and the number of species. The species-area relationship is understood, in terms of thermodynamics, to be the skewed cumulative curve of chemical energy distribution that is commonly known as the species-abundance relationship.