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University of California Press
Laws, Theories, and Patterns in Ecology / Edition 1

Laws, Theories, and Patterns in Ecology / Edition 1



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Laws, Theories, and Patterns in Ecology / Edition 1

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.

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9780520260412
Publisher: University of California Press
Publication date: 08/05/2009
Edition description: New Edition
Pages: 256
Product dimensions: 5.40(w) x 8.10(h) x 0.70(d)

About the Author

Walter K. Dodds is Professor of Biology at Kansas State University and the author of Freshwater Ecology and Humanity's Footprint.

Table of Contents

Preface ix

Acknowledgments xiii


Prediction in Ecology 1

What Should We Expect from Laws? 6

How Laws Will Be Approached 15

Chapter 1 Laws

Foundations 22

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

Populations 97

Communities 107

Ecosystems 120

Conclusion 142

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

Conclusions 190

References 193

Index 223

What People are Saying About This

From the Publisher

"It is encyclopedic in its treatment. . . the wide scope of the book turns up some surprising gems."—Bioscience

"Dodd's goals for this book are both urgent and worthy."—Ecology

"Valuable contribution."—Ecoscience

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