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Reductionist Approaches in Community Ecology

Pablo Inchausti
The American Naturalist
Vol. 143, No. 2 (Feb., 1994), pp. 201-221
Stable URL: http://www.jstor.org/stable/2462641
Page Count: 21
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Since scans are not currently available to screen readers, please contact JSTOR User Support for access. We'll provide a PDF copy for your screen reader.
Reductionist Approaches in Community Ecology
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Abstract

Reductionist research strategies have been important and perhaps dominant in community ecology in the recent past. The intention to explain community-level attributes from population- and individual-level ones stems from the classical Nagelian model of reductionism. The epistemological, ontological, and methodological implications of this model are discussed, and their evaluation should discourage its use in ecology. A broader, realistic, and functional reductionistic approach may be useful for making a more pluralist and historical rational reconstruction of science (exemplified by niche theory) and for the study of biological communities, mainly in the search for mechanisms. The relative advantages and shortcomings of this broader approach are also reviewed.

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