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populationpopulatio (lat.); population (fr.); Population (ger.)

  • A group of animals, plants, or humans, within which breeding occurs. (OED 2011)
    c. -51 (BC)

    [Caesar suos a proelio continebat, ac satis habebat in praesentia hostem rapinis, pabulationibus populationibusque prohibere.

    Cicero (c. 51 BC). Commentarii de bello gallico I, 15, 2.]

    c. 50

    [ea res a populatione murum formi-carumque frumenta defendit […] aut si maturitatem serotini expectet, amittat vindemiam praecoquem, quae plerumque populationibus volucrum pluviisque aut ventis lacessita

    Columella (c. 50 AD). De re rustica 2, 19, 1; 3, 21, 5.]

    Sometimes one of these clumps of nests [of a small African bird of the Loxia genus] will extend a space of ten feet in diameter, and contain a population of several hundred individuals
    Barrow, J. (1801). An Account of Travels into the Interior of Southern Africa: 394.
    The population of the tribe is measured by the population of its herd
    Malthus, T.R. (1798/1803). An Essay on the Principle of Population: 100.
    population d’animaux
    Huot (1827). Quelques considérations géologiques sur la présence des débris d’animaux vertébrés dans les différentes couches de notre globe. Ann. Sci. Nat. 10, 261-291: 272.
    theory of population
    Spencer, H. (1852). A theory of population. Deduced from the general law of animal fertility. Westminster Rev. 57, 468-501: 500.
    the population of a species
    Wallace, A.R. (1858). On the tendency of varieties to depart indefinitely from the original type (in: Contributions to the Theory of Natural Selection. A Series of Essays, London 1870, 26-44): 28.

    The average age of marriage affects population in a threefold manner

    Galton, F. (1869). Hereditary Genius: 353.

    Pearson, K. (1897). The Chances of Death, and Other Studies in Evolution, 2 vols.: I, 264; II, 54.
    Population [als] eine Bevölkerung, ein Bestand von Tieren oder von Pflanzen einer gegebenen Art (oder Rasse)
    Johannsen, W. (1903). Ueber Erblichkeit in Populationen und in reinen Linien. Ein Beitrag zur Beleuchtung schwebender Selektionsfragen: 2.
    A Mendelian population is a reproductive community of sexual and cross-fertilizing individuals which share in a common gene pool
    Dobzhansky, T. (1950). Mendelian populations and their evolution. Amer. Nat. 84, 401-418: 405; cf. id. (1937/51). Genetics and the Origin of Species: 15; Stebbins, G.L. (1950). Variation and Evolution in Plants: 38.
    In sexually reproducing organisms [...] a population may be defined as a group of individuals among which a larger or smaller amount of interbreeding and gene exchange can occur
    Stebbins, G.L. (1950). Variation and Evolution in Plants: 38.

    a group of individuals belonging to a single species, or to several species which are closely associated with each other, is called a population.

    Odum, E.P. (1953). Fundamentals of Ecology: 7. 


    Populations as the units of evolution […] In current biological usage ‘population’ refers to a group of individual organisms standing in certain relations to each other.

    Goudge, T.A. (1961). The Ascent of Life: 26

    [A population is] any group of individuals considered together at any one time because of features they have in common
    Davis, P.H. & Heywood, H. (1963). Principles of Angiosperm Taxonomy: 353.
    A population of a certain species is a group of individiduals of this species, which possess certain quantitative properties, and which is seperated from other groups of this species by discontinuities in the frequencies of interactions, the magnitude of these discontinuities being dependent on the nature of the group, and hence on the problem chosen for study
    Bakker, K. (1964). Backgrounds of controversies about population theories and their terminologies. Z. angew. Entomol. 53, 187-208: 189.
    A population is defined here as a reproducing group of individuals of one species, living in a certain area or volume
    Sladen, B.K. & Bang, F.B. (1969). Population growth and ecology. In: id. (eds.). Biology of Populations: 13.

    population group of individuals of a single species

    Krebs, C. (1972). Ecology. The Experimental Analysis of Distribution and Abundance: 637.

    A population is one or more individuals of the same species co-occurring in time and space
    McNaughton, S.J. & Wolf, L.L. (1973). General Ecology: 5.
    Population – a group of coevolutionary interacting demes or non-outcrossing organisms, which due to a common descent are genetically similar enough to be considered conspecific, yet do not interbreed sufficiently to be a panmictic unit [i.e., a deme]
    MacMahon, J.A., Phillips, D.L., Robinson, J.V. & Schimpf, D.J. (1978). Levels of biological organization: an organism-centered approach. BioScience 28, 700-704: 704.

    the concept of species is logically prior to, and independent of, any concept of aggregate and system of organisms—in particular that of population.

    Mahner, M. & Bunge, M. (1997). Foundations of Biophilosophy: 154.


    A Darwinian population in the minimal sense is a collection of causally connected individual things in which there is variation in character, which leads to differences in reproductive output (differences in how much or how quickly individuals reproduce), and which is inherited to some extent. Inheritance is understood as similarity between parent and offspring, due to the causal role of the parents.

    Godfrey-Smith, P. (2009). Darwinian Populations and Natural Selection: 39.


    A population consists at any given time of organisms all of whose non sex-related genes have relatively free access to all others in the group for purposes of such gene-recombination by means of normal sexual reproduction

    Matthen, M. (2009). Chicken, eggs, and speciation. Nous 43, 94-115: 106.


    Eine Population ist eine Menge von Organismen einer Art, die in einer Region leben, so dass eine gegenseitige Beeinflussung oder gemeinsame Reproduktion möglich ist. In selektionstheoretischer Perspektive ist eine Population eine Menge von Selektionseinheiten, die den gleichen Selektionsbedingungen und dem gleichen Selektionsregime unterliegen, bei denen also die Fitnesszunahme der Einheiten eines Typs (aufgrund eines Merkmals) mit einer Fitnessabnahme der Einheiten der anderen Typen (mit dem Alternativmerkmal) einhergeht.

    Toepfer, G. (2011). Historisches Wörterbuch der Biologie. Geschichte und Theorie der biologischen Grundbegriffe, vol 3: 114.

Egerton, F.N. (1967). Observations and Studies of Animal Populations Before 1860 (Diss. Univ. Madison).

Egerton, F.N. (1968). Ancient sources for animal demography. Isis 59, 175-189.

Provine, W.B. (1971). The Origins of Theoretical Population Genetics.

Jonckers, L.H.M. (1973). The concept of population in biology. Acta Biotheor. 22, 78-108.

Kingsland, S. (1982). The refractory model: the logistic curve and the history of population ecology. Quart. Rev. Biol. 57, 29-52.

Kingsland, S. (1985). Modeling Nature. Episodes in the History of Population Ecology.