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Experimental venue and estimation of interaction strength: Comment

Record type: Article

While experiments are vital for understanding how ecological systems operate, different philosophies exist concerning how experiments should be conducted (e.g., Petranka 1989, Dunham and Beaupre 1998, Resetarits and Fauth 1998, Skelly and Kiesecker 2001; also see the special features in Herpetologica [1989; 45:111– 128] and Ecology [1996; 77:663–705, see Dahler and Strong 1996]). Recently, Skelly (2002) asked how experimental venue (i.e., cattle tanks set up as mesocosms in a field setting vs. screened enclosures placed into natural ponds) influences competitive interactions between two species of larval anurans (Pseudacris crucifer and Rana sylvatica) and how results from the two venues match a standard of realism. He observed that density affected competitive interactions among larval anurans in mesocosms but not in enclosures and concluded that enclosures were more realistic because the observed size of tadpoles measured in the field was more similar to the size of tadpoles predicted by the enclosure experiment than by the mesocosm experiment. Although an empirical examination of venue is valid, we believe that this study has serious flaws and claims differences between venues that erroneously devalue the use of mesocosms. Our goal is to reinterpret the results from Skelly (2002) in light of its design, point out methodological/statistical issues associated with his study, and argue that both venues can make meaningful contributions to the field of ecology if they are designed correctly with regard to the questions being asked and the specific population of interest.

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Citation

Chalcraft, D.R., Binckley, C.A. and Resetarits, W.J. (2005) Experimental venue and estimation of interaction strength: Comment Ecology, 86, pp. 1061-1067. (doi:10.1890/04-0725).

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Published date: April 2005

Identifiers

Local EPrints ID: 56170
URI: http://eprints.soton.ac.uk/id/eprint/56170
ISSN: 0012-9658
PURE UUID: 40c0b47f-8169-4e3b-b3a3-8e4dcb0b0517

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Date deposited: 08 Aug 2008
Last modified: 17 Jul 2017 14:31

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Contributors

Author: D.R. Chalcraft
Author: C.A. Binckley
Author: W.J. Resetarits

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