Posted by: Jeremy Fox | May 15, 2012

From the archives: bandwagons in ecology

What are some of the biggest bandwagons in ecology right now? Why do some research topics turn into bandwagons, while others don’t? How do you tell a bandwagon from a non-bandwagon? Can a bandwagon be stopped? For the answers, check out this old post.


  1. Neutal thory has become a bandwagon, and amutating one at that: “neutral processes” seems to have become synonymous with “stochastic”. It makes me want to write a paper insisting that the name of the theory be changes to “ecological martingales”. Not that anyone would take any notice, but it would be fun.

    Bayes has become a bit of a bandwagon too, but as an early adopter I think that’s a good thing. Well, actually not 100%: I’ve reviewed papers where authors have been so keen to be Bayesian they’ve missed doing the simpler and better analysis.

    And then there’s the blogging bandwagon, of course.

    • I have already done my bit to try to stop people saying that “neutral” equals “stochastic”.

      Yes, I agree with you and the other commenters that Bayesian stats, especially hierarchical Bayes, threatens to become a bandwagon. Simple but robust and transparent stats seem to be going out of style.

      Re: blogging as a bandwagon, I couldn’t possibly comment.

  2. I tend to think of recent applications of Phylogenetic Distance to longstanding questions in community ecology (e.g. invasion success and ecosystem functioning) as a growing bandwagon. There seems to be a lot of self-sustaining enthusiasm among workers in this field that throwing phylogeny at these problems will clear everything up, but I’m often not convinced that they really know exactly what questions they are asking (intentionally or unintentionally) by doing so.

    • I agree 1000%! And I even have evolutionary colleagues who do phylogenetic stuff for a living who agree as well.

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