Three different lattice-based models for antagonistic ecological interactions, both nonlinear and stochastic,exhibit similar power-law scalings in the geometry of clusters. Specifically, cluster size distributions andperimeter-area curves follow power-law scalings. In the coexistence regime, these patterns are robust: their exponents, and therefore the associated Korcak exponent characterizing patchiness, depend onlyweakly on the parameters of the systems. These distributions, in particular the values of their exponents,are close to those reported in the literature for systems associated with self-organized criticality (SOC)such as forest-fire models; however, the typical assumptions of SOC need not apply. Our results demonstrate that power-law scalings in cluster size distributions are not restricted to systems for antagonistic interactions in which a clear separation of time-scales holds. The patterns are characteristic of processes of growth and inhibition in space, such as those in predator-prey and disturbance-recovery dynamics. Inversions of these patterns, that is, scalings with a positive slope as described for plankton distributions, would therefore require spatial forcing by environmental variability. © 2002 The Royal Society.