Wildlife Science: Gaining Reliable Knowledge
The Journal of Wildlife Management
Two scientific methods called induction and retroduction form the basis for almost all wildlife research. Induction is used to establish reliable associations among sets of facts, whereas retroduction is used to establish research hypotheses about the fact-giving processes driving nature. A 3rd scientific method, the hypothetico-deductive (H-D), is a means for testing research hypotheses, i.e., for gauging their reliability. The H-D method is rarely used in wildlife science. Instead, research hypotheses are proposed, and either made into a law through verbal repetition or lose favor and are forgotten. I develop the thesis that wildlife research should use the H-D method to test research hypotheses, using the threshold- of-security hypothesis for winter mortality for illustration. I show that persistent confusions about the definitions of concepts like carrying capacity, correlation and cause-and-effect, and the reliability of know 1- edge gained from computer simulation models stem from either inadequate or misused scientific methods.
H.C. Romesburg. 1981. Wildlife Science: Gaining Reliable Knowledge. Journal of Wildlife Management, 45(2):293-313.