The Relation of Population-Dynamics to Some Other Areas of Ecology
- New University of Ulster, Coleraine, Northern Ireland
Near where I live in Northern Ireland there is a large circular "temple" built on the very edge of a cliff in classical style of the late eighteenth century by Frederick Augustus Hervey, Earl of Bristol and Bishop of Derry. Around the lower edge of the domed roof is a Latin inscription which can be roughly translated: "It is a pleasure to stand upon the shore and to see ships tossed upon the sea".
To most visitors this seems a cynical and heartless sentiment not uncharacteristic of a particularly worldly prelate. In fact you will find in Bacon's essay on "Truth" that this is only part of a quotation, which continues. . . "a pleasure to stand in the window of a castle and to see a battle. . . below, but no pleasure is comparable to standing upon the vantage ground of Truth. . . and to see the errors and wanderings and mists and tempests in the vale below".
I have a feeling that this might appear to some of you to sum up the academic ecologist's attitude to the problems encountered by the practical agriculturalists, wildlife managers and horticulturalists. I recognise that the history of ecology has been far too often dominated by academic disputes about theory and terminology which bear little relation to problems of population management, and that there are still many practices which work empirically but for which we have little theoretical foundation.
[This paper was given as the invited Keynote Address for the Symposium on Population Ecology at the New Zealand Ecological Society Conference, Wellington, 27 August 1980.]