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“It is encyclopedic in its treatment. . . the wide scope of the book turns up some surprising gems.”
Physics and chemistry are distinguished from biology by the way generalizations are codified into theories tested by observation and experimentation. Some theories have been sufficiently tested to qualify as laws.
In ecology, generalizations worthy of being called theories are less common because observations and experimentation are difficult and exceptions are more common.
In this book, Walter K. Dodds enumerates generalizations in ecology.
Introductory material describes how the practice of science in general, and ecology specifically, yields theories and laws. Dodds also discusses why such ideas are only useful if they have predictive ability, and delineates the scope of these generalizations and the constraints that limit their application. The result is a short book that delves deeply into important ecological ideas and how they predict and provide understanding.
Prediction in Ecology 1
What Should We Expect from Laws? 6
How Laws Will Be Approached 15
Chapter 1 Laws
Fundamental Biological Laws 27
Physiological Constraints of Organisms 29
Behavior of Organisms 34
Fundamental Properties of Populations 35
Laws That Arise from Evolution 40
Variability and Organisms 42
Biotic and Abiotic Interactions of Organisms 46
Some Candidate Laws 53
Some Useful Generalizations or Patterns 57
The Promise of Reductìonism in Solving Ecological Problems 62
Chapter 2 Theories
Cross-Cutting Theories 71
Physiological Ecology 90
Chapter 3 Patterns, Questions, and Predictions
General Questions 146
Questions Related to Patterns in Communities 162
Questions About Ecosystems and Community Effects on Ecosystems 176