Letter | Published:

A Controversial Equation in Population Ecology


MILNE gives his case away at two points in his argument. His first difficulty is largely semantic. He prefers the term ‘maximum density’ where Nicholson used ‘equilibrium density’. In population experiments begun at low densities, where the numbers rise asymptotically to a maximum, both terms are equally applicable. However, populations often overshoot the equilibrium denstity and settle down to this value afterwards; or they may be begun experimentally at levels above the equilibrium. Nicholson's more general term is applicable to all these cases, whereas Milne's is not.

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