Population biology and its application to practical problems

  • Louis W. Botsford
  • Subodh K. Jain
Part of the Monographiae Biologicae book series (MOBI, volume 67)


The principles of population biology have been successfully applied to a wide variety of practical problems. However, there is a widely held view that the practical application of the principles of population biology has often not lived up to its perceived potential. Possible reasons for this include: (1) inadequate principles (or theory), (2) overwhelming inherent variability in populations, (3) a flawed approach to applications, and (4) other exogenous political and social factors, outside the scope of this book. Biological ecology has long sought general principles in the development of a predictive science, but there is considerable dissatisfaction with progress. Ecologists have sought to characterize the general nature of the organization and dynamic behavior of communities and populations, dealing with issues such as the degree of inter-connectedness within them and their susceptibility to random environmental events. Several specific theories regarding limited aspects of their behavior (e.g., genetic structure, species coexistence) have been developed. There has been a relatively recent shift to an experimental, manipulative approach to field observations. Population biologists have also begun to pay closer attention to the philosophical underpinnings of the relationship between theory and observation. The few rules that have guided the development of theoretical principles have led to a class of simple (non-mechanistic), general (vague or unspecific) models which are central to current population and community theory. The approach to genetic theory has been based more on mechanistic models, even though the mechanisms themselves are simpler than the actual systems. We characterize the several kinds of principles of population genetics and population dynamics. We then introduce the applications covered in the following chapters in the context of the questions posed and the background review provided in this chapter.


Population Genetic Practical Problem Population Biology Population Ecology Ecological Theory 
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Copyright information

© Kluwer Academic Publishers 1992

Authors and Affiliations

  • Louis W. Botsford
    • 1
  • Subodh K. Jain
    • 2
  1. 1.Department of Wildlife and Fisheries BiologyUniversity of CaliforniaDavisUSA
  2. 2.Department of Agronomy and Range ScienceUniversity of CaliforniaDavisUSA

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