Population ecology is the most mature of the three subdisciplines of ecology partly because it has a solid mathematical foundation and partly because it can address the primary questions of distribution and abundance with experimental protocols. Yet there is much left to do to integrate our population knowledge into community and ecosystem ecology to help address the global issues of food security and the conservation of biodiversity. Many different approaches are now being developed to bring about this integration and much more research will be necessary to decide which if any will be most useful in achieving our goals of explaining the changes we see in the distribution and abundance of animals and plants. Food web ecology would appear to be the best approach at present because it uses the detailed information of the population ecology of particular species in combination with data on consumer-resource interactions to apply to the applied problems of biodiversity conservation, food security, pest management and disease prevention. If we can use our understanding of population ecology to address the practical problems of our time in a creative way, we will benefit both the human population and the Earth's biodiversity. Much remains to be done.