Reconciling different underlying ontologies and explanatory contexts has been one of the main challenges and impediments for theory integration in biology. Here, we analyze the challenge of developing an inclusive and integrative theory of phenotypic evolution as an example for the broader challenge of developing a theory of theory integration within the life sciences and suggest a number of necessary formal steps toward the resolution of often incompatible (hidden) assumptions. Theory integration in biology requires a better formal understanding of the structure of biological theories The strategy for integrating theories crucially depends on the relationships of the underlying ontologies.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)5-14
Number of pages10
JournalJournal of Experimental Zoology Part B: Molecular and Developmental Evolution
Issue number1
StatePublished - Jan 2018


  • ontology
  • phenotypic evolution
  • theory integration

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Ecology, Evolution, Behavior and Systematics
  • Molecular Medicine
  • Animal Science and Zoology
  • Genetics
  • Developmental Biology

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