Finite size scaling in the local abundances of geographic populations
We analyzed the statistical distribution of intra-specific local abundances for a set North American breeding bird species. We constructed frequency plots for every species and found that they showed long-tail power-law behavior, truncated at an upper abundance cut-off value. Based on finite size scaling arguments, we investigated whether frequency curves may be considered scaled copies of each other. Data collapse was possible after taking powers of the total abundance of each species, in order to correct deviations from the underlying universal finite size scaling function (UFSS). The UFSS power law exponent oscillated in time within the regime of unbounded variance, which is consistent with the wild fluctuations that characterize ecological phenomena. We speculate that our results may eventually be linked to other law-like macroecological phenomena, such as energetic constraints reported in allometric scaling.