Philosophical Topics 47 (1):21-43 (2019)

The concept of population is central to ecology, yet it has received little attention from philosophers of ecology. Furthermore, the work that has been done often recycles ideas that have been developed for evolutionary biology. We argue that ecological populations and evolutionary populations, though intimately related, are distinct, and that the distinction matters to practicing ecologists. We offer a definition of ecological population in terms of demographic independence, where changes in abundance are a function of birth and death processes alone. However, demographic independence is insufficient on its own so we supplement it with the idea of shared habitat. An ecological population is a group of organisms of the same species in a habitat that manifests DI. Given the importance of metapopulation dynamics to modern ecology, an account of ecological population must apply to this domain as well. Thus, we extend our definition of ecological population to the metapopulation. To facilitate the extension, we introduce the metahabitat—a collection of spatially segregated habitat patches shared by a single DI population. This enables us to diagnose some unhelpful trends in the metapopulation literature and emphasize the importance of habitat dynamics in pursuit of the goals of theoretical ecology and conservation biology.
Keywords Analytic Philosophy  General Interest  Philosophy of Mind
Categories No categories specified
(categorize this paper)
DOI 10.5840/philtopics20194712
Edit this record
Mark as duplicate
Export citation
Find it on Scholar
Request removal from index
Revision history

Download options

PhilArchive copy

Upload a copy of this paper     Check publisher's policy     Papers currently archived: 72,634
External links

Setup an account with your affiliations in order to access resources via your University's proxy server
Configure custom proxy (use this if your affiliation does not provide a proxy)
Through your library

References found in this work BETA

No references found.

Add more references

Citations of this work BETA

No citations found.

Add more citations

Similar books and articles

Populations as Individuals.Roberta L. Millstein - 2009 - Biological Theory 4 (3):267-273.
The Galilean Turn in Population Ecology.Mark Colyvan & Lev R. Ginzburg - 2003 - Biology and Philosophy 18 (3):401-414.
Population Cycles, Disease, and Networks of Ecological Knowledge.Susan D. Jones - 2017 - Journal of the History of Biology 50 (2):357-391.
The Two Coexisting Ecological Paradigms.R. Hengeveld & G. H. Walter - 1999 - Acta Biotheoretica 47 (2):141-170.
Functional Biodiversity and the Concept of Ecological Function.Antoine C. Dussault - 2019 - In Elena Casetta, Davide Vecchi & Jorge Miguel Luz Marques da Silva (eds.), From Assessing to Conserving biodiversity: Beyond the Species Approach. Dordrecht, Pays-Bas: Springer. pp. 297-316.


Added to PP index

Total views
4 ( #1,286,651 of 2,533,752 )

Recent downloads (6 months)
2 ( #260,225 of 2,533,752 )

How can I increase my downloads?


My notes