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Why Ask "Why": The Importance of Evolutionary Biology in Wildlife Science
Thomas A. Gavin
The Journal of Wildlife Management
Vol. 55, No. 4 (Oct., 1991), pp. 760-766
Stable URL: http://www.jstor.org/stable/3809529
Page Count: 7
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The kinds of questions we ask in wildlife biology are at least as important as the methods we use to get answers to questions in research. In this essay, I urge wildlife biologists to vigorously pursue "why" questions rather than "how" questions or descriptive studies that should serve only as a starting point for our investigations. Behavioral ecologists are currently involved in a debate over explanations for biological phenomena called "levels of analysis": how many are there, what terms and definitions apply to each level, and the importance of clearly identifying which level an explanation emanates from given that there are correct explanations for the same phenomenon at each level. Asking "why" questions should lead the wildlife biologist into the realm of evolutionary biology and should place greater emphasis on understanding spatial and temporal variability in reproductive success and survival of wildlife species. I argue that our most useful insights about populations and communities should develop from long-term studies of this type.
The Journal of Wildlife Management © 1991 Wiley