Rescaling Biology

The organization of the living world covers a vast range of spatiotemporal scales, from molecules to the biosphere, seconds to centuries. Biologists working within specialized subdisciplines tend to focus on different ranges of scales. Therefore, developing frameworks that enable testing questions and predictions of scaling requires sufcient understanding of complex processes across biological subdisciplines and spatiotemporal scales. Frameworks that enable scaling across subdisciplines would ideally allow us to test hypotheses about the degree to which explicit integration across spatiotemporal scales is needed for predicting the outcome of biological processes. For instance, how does genomic variation within populations allow us to explain community structure? How do the dynamics of cellular metabolism translate to our understanding of whole-ecosystem metabolism? Do patterns and processes operate seamlessly across biological scales, or are there fundamental laws of biological scaling that limit our ability to make predictions from one scale to another? Similarly, can sub-organismal structures and processes be sufciently understood in isolation of potential feedbacks from the population, community, or ecosystem levels? And can we infer the sub-organismal processes from data on the population, community, or ecosystem scale? Concerted efforts to develop more cross-disciplinary frameworks will open doors to a more fully integrated feld of biology. In this paper, we discuss how we might integrate across scales, specifcally by (1) identifying scales and boundaries, (2) determining analogous units and processes across scales, (3) developing frameworks to unite multiple scales, and (4) extending frameworks to new empirical systems.



Work Title Rescaling Biology
Subtitle Increasing Integration Across Biological Scales and Subdisciplines to Enhance Understanding and Prediction
Open Access
  1. Colette St. Mary
  2. Thomas H.Q. Powell
  3. John S. Kominoski
  4. Emily Weinert
License In Copyright (Rights Reserved)
Work Type Article
  1. Integrative and Comparative Biology
Publication Date December 1, 2021
Publisher Identifier (DOI)
Deposited July 26, 2022




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Work History

Version 1

  • Created
  • Added StMary_et_al_Rescaling_Biology_untracked_main.pdf
  • Added Creator Colette St. Mary
  • Added Creator Thomas H.Q. Powell
  • Added Creator John S. Kominoski
  • Added Creator Emily Weinert
  • Published