This seems like such a non-Darwinian topic for The Scientist (shades of structuralism!):
There is a debate raging in ecology about whether there are ecological laws, analogous to the universal rules that underpin physics and mathematics. This discussion is important for a number of reasons. According to some, laws are the true mark of a scientific discipline, so ecology’s status as a branch of science hinges on the outcome. The existence of ecological laws could also make a difference to the practice of ecology.
If there are no laws to be discovered, ecologists would seem to be in the business of merely supplying a suite of localized models. These models would be assessed for their empirical adequacy in specific contexts, but not for their ability to capture universal truths. If, on the other hand, ecology does have laws, this invites further exploration into what these laws are and what their utility might be in describing ecological dynamics.Mark Colyvan, John Damuth, and Lev R. Ginzburg, “The Dawn of Universal Ecology” at The Scientist
Sounds promising. If physics depends on mathematics and chemistry depends on physics and biology depends on chemistry, why could not be laws be derived that help us understand ecology?
But then Malthus betrays the authors, as he misled Darwin:
Take the core ecological principle that, when resources are unlimited, populations grow exponentially. This principle, posited by Thomas Malthus in 1798, could be regarded as the cornerstone of population ecology. Ecologists have every reason to believe that this principle is perfectly generalizable. After all, it is a logical extension of the idea that every organism produces as many offspring as it can. A failure of exponential growth would require a systematic reduction in the overall reproductive output. In a system with limitless resources, such a decline would be inexplicable. Mark Colyvan, John Damuth, and Lev R. Ginzburg, “The Dawn of Universal Ecology” at The Scientist
If the authors consider humans an organism, how do they account for the fact that we famously do NOT produce as many offspring as we can? What grew exponentially was human civilization; numbers are a variable factor.
Do we actually know that most life forms produce as many offspring as they can? Some of us would suggest more study.