Research on relative species abundance provides new theoretical foundation

mmetric Neutral Theory, as it is now called, is consistent with a number of major ecological pattern regularities at large geographic spatial scales as well as evolutionary time scales, many of which have resisted explanation by asymmetric niche-assembly theory.

"One of my personal lessons from this interdisciplinary collaboration is that physics may provide fresh approaches to some old problems in ecology," said Hubbell. "Ecologists often start with an already complex hypothesis and then add even more complexity. Physicists tend to start with the simplest hypothesis they can think of and then add complexity only when they're forced to by the data. Maybe this is why they jumped on my Neutral Theory."

Hubbell admits that his Neutral Theory will probably continue to be controversial among many of his colleagues for some time to come, and he expects the new paper in Nature to draw considerable scrutiny. The paper rebuts some of the firestorm of criticism kicked off by Hubbell's 2001 book, which brought both supporters and critics into a major scientific debate over the book's validity.


Contact: Kim Carlyle
University of Georgia

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