Must There Be a Balance of Nature?
Author: Cooper G.
Source: Biology and Philosophy, Volume 16, Number 4, September 2001 , pp. 481-506(26)
The balance of nature concept is an old idea that manifests itself in a number of forms in population and community ecology. This paper focuses on population ecology, where controversy surrounding the balance of nature takes the form of perennial debates over the significance of density dependence, population regulation, and species interactions such as competition. One of the most striking features of these debates, over the course of the previous century in ecology, is the tendency to argue the case on largely conceptual grounds. This paper explores two questions. Why this tendency to settle on conceptual grounds what is so obviously an empirical issue? Are there any good conceptual arguments to be had in this area?
Keywords: a priori argument; abiotic factors; balance of nature; biotic factors; competition; density dependence; equilibrium; non-equilibrium; paradigm; population regulation; random walk; statistical return tendency
Document Type: Regular paper
Publication date: 2001-09-01