Webster's New World online gives usage examples containing both.
"(populated) with: Producing the sort of analyzes we have discussed needs a well-designed database populated with the right data."
"(populated) by: It is certainly a beautiful place, populated by friendly folks."
There's a subtle difference there that I can't quite articulate. Too bad Webster's didn't bother trying to articulate it either.
Just a WAG, but I'd say "populated with" implies that the population was put there and "populated by" means it got there all on its own.
Hey, you're on to something! "Populated with" seems to have a transitive quality -- as if there's an unseen doer. "Populated by" seems to have an organic quality.
Velly intelesting ...
my first reaction, before reading the first comment, was that it has something to do with choice.
The pristine habitat was populated by birds (they choose to be there, in their ecological niche)
'with' would imply a reintroduction to me (esp w/o the pristine)
Sounds good to me. : )
I would use "populated by" in the most literal sense ( to me) of "populate" , the dwelling at a particular place of a group of living creatures. I would use " populated with" only in figurative speech.
In all modesty, not being a native speaker.
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