community, ecology, logistic, modeling, redescription
Philosophy of Science | Population Biology
The relationship between mathematical expression and biological insight is a central problem for modelers in community ecology. In this paper I distinguish three interpretations of this relationship: models as redescriptions as observations; models as capturing fundamental or generative biological relations; and models as an aid in exploring how to formulate the inquiries we put to nature. I aim to show that we can reduce ambiguities and confusion and ecological theory if we hold the different interpretations clearly in mind. I conclude by advancing an overall strategy of model building—de/composition—in which each of the interpretations plays a role. The logistic equation, a very simple mathematical model, is used to illustrate my arguments about models and modeling.
Taylor, Peter J., "The relationship between mathematical expression and biological insight: Some issues in community ecology modeling, exemplified by the logistic equation" (1985). Working Papers on Science in a Changing World. 13.
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