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Ecological NichesLinking Classical and Contemporary Approaches$
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Jonathan M. Chase and Mathew A. Leibold

Print publication date: 2003

Print ISBN-13: 9780226101798

Published to Chicago Scholarship Online: February 2013

DOI: 10.7208/chicago/9780226101811.001.0001

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Designs and Limitations of Empirical Approaches to the Niche

Designs and Limitations of Empirical Approaches to the Niche

(p.60) Chapter Four Designs and Limitations of Empirical Approaches to the Niche
Ecological Niches

Jonathan M. Chase

Mathew A. Leibold

University of Chicago Press

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

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