Papers in the Biological Sciences


Date of this Version



BioScience (April 2004) 54(4): 345-351.


U.S. government work.


There are few well-documented, general ecological principles that can be applied to pressing environmental issues. When they discuss them at all, ecologists often disagree about the relative importance of different aspects of the science’s original and still important issues. It may be that the sum of ecological science is not open to universal statements because of the wide range of organizational, spatial, and temporal phenomena, as well as the sheer number of possible interactions.We believe, however, that the search for general principles has been inadequate to establish the extent to which generalities are possible.We suggest that ecologists may need to reconsider how we view our science. This article lists ten suggestions for ecology, recognizing the many impediments to finding generalizations in this field, imposed in part by the complexity of the subject and in part by limits to funding for the study of ecology.