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Ecological Interdependence via Constraints

Published online by Cambridge University Press:  01 January 2022


Although ecological theory has historically focused on negative interactions among populations, like competition and predation, ecologists and conservation biologists highlight the significance of interdependence. It is not clear, however, what is asserted in the causal hypothesis that one population is interdependent on others. This essay argues that the most informative causal regularities for representing dependencies are those connecting populations through environmental constraint variables. Interdependence among populations can thus be understood as constraint-mediated dependency relations connected in a circuit.

Research Article
Philosophy of Science , Volume 85 , Issue 5 , December 2018 , pp. 1115 - 1126
Copyright © The Philosophy of Science Association

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Thanks to Roberta Millstein, Alkistis Elliott-Graves, and Steven Peck for the PSA symposium and the associated discussions that inspired this article. Their comments, together with those of several symposium attendees and two anonymous referees, helped substantially with reining it in.


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