Great post over at The EEB and Flow, responding to Lindenmayer and Likens’ recent piece claiming that ecology is losing its empirical, place-based “culture” in favor of modeling, meta-analysis, and data mining. A quick glance at recent issues of our leading journals doesn’t support Lindenmayer and Likens’ argument (most articles are still based on data the authors collected themselves). And increased competition for funding and jobs probably exacerbates intellectual tensions that go all the way back to the founding of ecology as a distinct discipline.
On this blog, I raise a lot of questions about how we do ecology, and I’ve also defended my own way of doing things. But nothing I’ve written is meant to imply that people who approach science differently than I do are somehow doing it wrong. Indeed, many of the papers that most impress me are papers which are very different from anything I would or could ever have done. Ecology is too hard to be “solved” by any one approach, and it’s too bad that some ecologists seem to feel otherwise. Over at The EEB and Flow, Ethan White notes that, when senior ecologists write about the state of the field, they often seem to end up lamenting that not everyone is doing science the way they personally would prefer it to be done. Like Ethan, I tend to find this sort of commentary unfortunate and unhelpful.