The Quarterly Review of Biology 85 (2):171--182 (2010)
AbstractABSTRACT We consider several ways in which a good understanding of modern techniques and principles in physics can elucidate ecology, and we focus on analogical reasoning between these two branches of science. Analogical reasoning requires an understanding of both sciences and an appreciation of the similarities and points of contact between the two. In the current ecological literature on the relationship between ecology and physics, there has been some misunderstanding about the nature of modern physics and its methods. Physics is seen as being much cleaner and tidier than ecology. When compared to this idealized, fictional version of physics, ecology looks very different, and the prospect of ecology and physics learning from one another is questionable. We argue that physics, once properly understood, is more like ecology than ecologists have thus far appreciated. Physicists and ecologists can and do learn from each other, and, in this paper, we outline how analogical reasoning can facilitate such exchanges.
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