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Ecology is not rocket science
Volume: 9, Issue 1-2
Ecology is the foundation of the methods used in conservation, pest, rangeland, forest and fisheries management. A theme among many ecologists is the need to justify the science as a rigorous discipline. Coupled with this is the notion that physics represents an ideal model of a rigorous science. To that end recent discussions in the literature have placed emphasis on identifying Laws of ecology. In particular, Malthusian growth has been identified as a prime candidate for an ecological law, and much has been written favorably comparing the expression to Newton’s laws of motion. Malthusian growth is shown here to be a poor example of a potential ecological law, largely due its numerous ceteris paribus conditions and lack of universality. In fact, as a simple linear model, Malthusian growth fails to adequately address the nonlinear complexities that make ecology such a rich and fascinating discipline. Ecological theory would do well to ignore comparisons to other sciences and focus on explaining the complex dynamics within ecology.