Quinn and Dunham (1983) argue that the conventional methods of science cannot be applied to ecological questions because there is not just one cause; one effect and many factors act together to produce ecological changes. Discuss the problem of “multiple causes” and how scientists can deal with complex systems that have multiple causes. Assignment must be submitted in Turnitin.
As the years go by there has been an alteration in how living organisms interact with each other but also with their environment/surroundings which is known as ecological change. This phenomenon is said to have multiple causes such as environmental and behavioural causes. In the earlier years, we tend to notice how most tests/ investigations were constructed simply on the data that was available throughout their experimental periods. But, in today’s society there is an increased availability to biological evolution which has increased the interest in the link between species kinship and the patterns of coinciding in an environment.
According to Quinn and Dunham (1983) argue that the conventional methods of science cannot be applied to ecological questions because there is not just one cause; one effect and many factors act together to produce ecological changes. The problem of “many causes” is that all these factors can contribute to an observed pattern. Due to all factors/causes having a role in the observed pattern then it results in none being disregarded when it comes to designing a proper experiment. This emphasizes that no single cause can be shown to account for all the observed variation in patterns and processes in natural communities (Quinn & Dunham, 1983). In this sort of case where there are “many causes” is better to assign relative importance’s to the contributions of, as well as the interactions between each process that are assumed of contributing to some degree.
In complex systems a given effect is commonly the product of multiple causes and a given cause has multiple effects with a system (Mobus & Kalton, 2015). In most cases where complex systems are present there will be multiple causes which are not able to always be closely connected in space and time. As a result of this, one specific cause cannot be isolated and examined because it will enhance the chance of getting inaccurate perceptions. An example given by Titcomb (1998) about complex system and multiple causes mentions that if you watched one fish diverge in response to the approach of another fish, you might assume that the first fish was responding to the other fish approaching them. However, if you were to look at the entire school then you would notice that the reason why the fish diverge was influenced by a complex system where each member acts to keep the school together and moving in the same direction. As a final point, scientist that deal with complex systems that have multiple causes must never be sure of the outcome that an action will have on the entire system. Therefore, experiments are expected to value whether these hypothesized processes are consistent to the ecological dynamics that are present in the environment.