Document Type


Publication Date

Summer 8-31-1985


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.

Creative Commons License

Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License.



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