Designs and Limitations of Empirical Approaches to the Niche

Jonathan M. Chase and Mathew A. Leibold

in Ecological Niches

Published by University of Chicago Press

Published in print July 2003 | ISBN: 9780226101798
Published online February 2013 | e-ISBN: 9780226101811 | DOI:
Designs and Limitations of Empirical Approaches to the Niche

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This chapter develops an overview of the ways one might use the niche concept as a framework for empirical studies, first discussing ways in which specific details of the models have been tested previously, using examples from the laboratory and field. Second, it discusses ways in which the niche-based framework can serve as a basis for a variety of empirical research programs. Throughout, the chapter develops the view that the utility of models lies not with the direct testability or validity of all of their assumptions and predictions, but with their ability to serve as a springboard for a variety of important insights and syntheses. That is, it is not proposed that this theory needs to be explicitly tested in the way empiricists often test models. Rather, the real value of theoretical models lies in structuring a conceptual view with which to develop and test qualitative hypotheses about the way a particular system is structured.

Keywords: niche concept; empirical studies; niche framework; theoretical models

Chapter.  5497 words.  Illustrated.

Subjects: Animal Pathology and Diseases

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