Wednesday, March 16, 2005

Ok, just minutes past, I feel the need to post again. About unifying theories. Yes, that's what has been on my mind. I get the impression that people feel that Hubbell's Unified Neutral Theory isn't worth all that much. Of course, as I saw it, it wasn't meant to answer "the question", it was meant to be a beginning. It was a useful bit of information, but I feel like he was on the wrong track. A neutral theory is bound to be wrong. True, it can be helpful. It presents a null hypothesis (of neutrality) - to prove an interaction you have to disprove neutrality. The fact that a lot can be explained by a neutral theory is interesting, but I don't think it deserves to be called a "unified" theory.

It all comes from something I saw on PBS the other day - about the search for a unified theory in physics. It makes you wonder whether there is - or can be - a unifying theory in ecology. So much changes as you move from one scale to another - Rosenzweig's famous species-area curve figure shows that quite well. But there must be common drivers acting across scales. There is no one point where one scale ends and the other one starts. I think...

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