Research: Do Energy Transport Systems Shape Organisms?

By Steve Bunk

Brian Evans/lightSpace

BEAUTY OF LIFE: This computer-generated image illustrating how organisms grow proportionally represents only a tiny portion of image E on the following page.

Could it be that the way organisms transport resources is the most pervasive influence on biological structure and diversity? Curious though it may seem, recent research suggests that networks for transporting the materials essential to life may be a prime mover in determining shape and form in nature.

This is the fundamental tenet of a framework for explaining many features of biological diversity that is being developed by three scientists: Geoffrey B. West, a theoretical physicist at Los Alamos National Laboratory in Los Alamos, N.M.; James H. Brown, a biology professor at the University of New Mexico; and Brian J. Enquist, a postdoctoral biologist at the nonprofit Santa Fe Institute.


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