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Against nature ? Why ecologists should not diverge from natural history

Abstract : A sort of dichotomy pervaded ecological studies in the last decades. On the one hand, an important part of ecologists had the diffuse perception that the observational approach of natural history had to fade away in favour of more formal experimental or modelling approaches. Others, on the other hand, had an increasing perception that these formal approaches were dismissing important cultural components of natural history that fed ecology since its very beginning. We provide here a reconstruction of ecological thinking from natural history arguing that the above mentioned schism between ’schools of thinking’ should be reconciled. Modern ecology and natural history deserve reciprocal scientific respect and both seek understanding nature, its components at different hierarchical levels (from species to ecosystems and beyond) and the way it works. Ecology needs natural history to figure out meaningful scenarios, select relevant variables and conceive meaningful hypotheses based on sound knowledge of species up to ecosystems. Similarly, natural history needs more structured ecological thinking for selecting appropriate experimental and/or quantitative approaches to ultimately move from field insight to hypothesis testing.
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Submitted on : Monday, July 4, 2016 - 4:33:24 PM
Last modification on : Thursday, August 4, 2022 - 4:54:08 PM


  • HAL Id : hal-01341726, version 1


P. Guidetti, V. Parravicini, C. Morri, C. N. Bianchi. Against nature ? Why ecologists should not diverge from natural history. Vie et Milieu / Life & Environment, Observatoire Océanologique - Laboratoire Arago, 2014, 64, pp.1-8. ⟨hal-01341726⟩



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