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The future of Australian plant ecology - incisively idiographic or nebulously nomothetic?


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Kirkpatrick, JB 1997 , 'The future of Australian plant ecology - incisively idiographic or nebulously nomothetic?', in N. Klomp and I. Lunt (eds.), Frontiers in ecology , Elsevier Science, Oxford, pp. 289-298.

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There has been a recent tendency in Australia plant ecological research to concentrate less on desciptive
and inductive work and more on hypothethetico-deductive and methological inquiry. While well-developed
theory makes the greatest contribution to understanding, it is generally lacking in plant ecology, making the
hypothetico-deductive approach often unproductive.

Descriptive and inductive studies form part of the process of development of theory, and are particularly vital in applied ecological studies.The mesoscale level of investigation seems to have the greatest potential to increase our understanding to plant ecology. Metholodgical involution has the potential to direct scarce reasearch resouces away from important problems as does the tendency for researchers to seek problems that suit methods, rather than methods that suit problems. Statistics are a powerful servant, but can be a capricious master. The absence of inferential statistical analysis does not necessarily amount to the absences of results that can increase ecological understanding. Overall, there appears to be a need to concentrate more on scientifically and practically important problems, rather than responding to sociologically determined fashion in metholodogy

Item Type: Book Section
Authors/Creators:Kirkpatrick, JB
Publisher: Elsevier Science
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