in this article I wish to call attention to several topics that need more or different kinds of work than they have received in the recent past. In part, I aim to provide a perspective on the biology of plant numbers that will complement, extend, and perhaps challenge some others developed in this volume. I shall refer repeatedly to theory and shall provide some new variations on existing theoretical themes, but a major objective is to emphasize the biology, as opposed to the theory, of plant numbers, with the hope of helping to stimulate some redirection of both theoretical and experimental efforts. I shall occasionally present as yet unpublished data in support of particular points and make some bold assertions concerning emerging ideas that require more data. There are two themes in this article. The first is that an understanding of the basic biology of plant populations will require more comprehensive study than is now standard. Plant strategies involve compromises among a diversity of selective factors. Determining the relative importance of these factors under different conditions is one of the most important goals of plant population biology. Most population studies have been short-term, however, and have addressed few hypotheses or, in extreme cases, a single prediction or assumption of a mathematical model.
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