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Citation. Tilman, D. 1989. Ecological experimentation: strengths and conceptual problems. Pages 136-157 in G. E. Likens, Ed., Long-Term Studies in Ecology. Springer-Verlag, 1989. [1172 LTER]
Introduction. The ecological world is a multi-casual system in which patterns result from the direct effects of physical factors, from intraspecific and interspecific biotic interactions, and from indirect and feedback effects of one species or system element on another. As such, there is no single, simple approach that can ever unambiguously demonstrate how or why a particular process, physical factor, or species has an effect on another element of the ecosystem. Although this chapter will critically evaluate the potential contributions of experimentation to ecological understanding, I must stress at the outset that ecological research requires a synthetic approach in which observational, experimental, and theoretical approaches are pursued in a simultaneous, coordinated, interactive manner.
Keywords. ecology, experimentation