The structure of the two ecological paradigms

Acta Biotheoretica 48 (1) (2000)
Ecological theory is built upon assumptions about the fundamental nature of organism-environment interactions. We argue that two mutually exclusive sets of such assumptions are available and that they have given rise to alternative approaches to studying ecology. The fundamentally different premises of these approaches render them irreconcilable with one another. In this paper, we present the first logical formalisation of these two paradigms.The more widely-accepted approach - which we label the demographic paradigm - includes both population ecology and community ecology (synecology). Demographic ecology assumes that the environment is relatively stable and that biotic processes, governed predominantly by resource availability, are the most important of ecological and evolutionary influences. Moreover, ecological processes are assumed to translate into directional selection pressures that drive significant evolutionary change on a local scale through the process of optimisation.
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