David Bourget (Western Ontario)
David Chalmers (ANU, NYU)
Rafael De Clercq
Jack Alan Reynolds
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Biology and Philosophy 1 (4):377-387 (1986)
The Macarthur-Wilson equilibrium theory of island biogeography has had a contradictory role in ecology. As a lasting contribution, the theory has created a new way of viewing insular environments as dynamical systems. On the other hand, many of the applications of the theory have reduced to mere unimaginative curve-fitting. I analyze this paradox in semiotic terms: the theory was mainly equated with the simple species-area relationship which became a signifier of interesting island ecology. The theory is, however, better viewed as a theoretical framework that suggests specific hypotheses on the ecology of colonization of insular environments. This paradox is inherent in the use of simplifying analytic models. Analytic models are necessary and fruitful in the work of ecologists, but they ought to be supplemented with a broader, pluralistic appreciation of the role of theories in general.
|Keywords||Semiotics ecological theory island biogeography|
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References found in this work BETA
L. Laudan (1977). Progress and its Problems: Toward a Theory of Scientific Growth. University of California Press.
Richard Levins & Richard Lewontin (1980). Dialectics and Reductionism in Ecology. Synthese 43 (1):47 - 78.
Citations of this work BETA
Yrjö Haila (1989). Ecology Finding Evolution Finding Ecology. Biology and Philosophy 4 (2):235-244.
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