Theoretical objections to the ecosystem concept as applied to our understanding of social relations in human populations fall into two broad categories. The first stems from the very special character of the coded information which circulates in addition to matter, energy and other forms of non-cultural messages. The second arises from a fundamental ambiguity in the intentions of those biologists who originally developed and employed the concept. For, on the one hand, the notion of an ecosystem has permitted an emphasis on the relationship between variables otherwise considered separately, while on the other it has allowed the separation of a discrete universe for the purposes of analysis.