“To search for the best concept is no idle conceit, because the experiments that a scientist may devise and therefore the facts he may discover, as well as the explanations that he offers for them, depend on how he conceives nature.” Andrewartha and Birch (1984) When my colleague Mauricio Lima sent me the accompanying paper ( Camus and Lima 2002 ) it rekindled my interest in an unfinished manuscript that attempts to address some of the questions and problems they pose. The ideas presented in this essay are based on the premise that ecology needs a central unifying concept upon which to build a coherent and practical discipline. I will argue that, from a practical point of view, the “population” is the most logical choice for that central concept and that, because of this, the concept requires a precise and unambiguous meaning. This leads me to propose a definition for “population” that, I think, has these qualities. Does ecology need a central unifying concept? Perhaps I can approach this question by asking another – Does biology need a central unifying concept? The answer, I think, is “yes” because most of modern biology is based on the biological concept
Oikos – Wiley
Published: Jun 1, 2002
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