Population biology

Population biology is the study of populations of organisms, especially the growth and regulation of population size, population genetics, demography and life history evolution, and interactions among species.[1] A population is a group of individuals of the same species that have a high probability of interacting with each other. A simple example would be trout in a lake, or moose on Isle Royale, although in many cases the boundaries delineating a population are not as clear cut.[2] The term population biology is often used interchangeably with population ecology.

Although Malthus's book, An Essay on the Principle of Population, dealt only with the economy of human population fluctuations, which he theorized as being related to finite food resources, abundance and decadence, it gave inspiration to Charles Darwin for the theoretical basis of his seminal work, The Origin of Species.

In October 1838, that is, fifteen months after I had begun my systematic inquiry, I happened to read for amusement Malthus on Population, and being well prepared to appreciate the struggle for existence which everywhere goes on from long- continued observation of the habits of animals and plants, it at once struck me that under these circumstances favourable variations would tend to be preserved, and unfavourable ones to be destroyed. The results of this would be the formation of a new species. Here, then I had at last got a theory by which to work; but I was so anxious to avoid prejudice, that I determined not for some time to write even the briefest sketch of it. In June 1842 I first allowed myself the satisfaction of writing a very brief abstract of my theory in pencil in 35 pages; and this was enlarged during the summer of 1844 into one of 230 pages, which I had fairly copied out and still possess.

Charles Darwin in his autobiography (written 1876, edited by his son and published 1887), pp. 34–35.

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