Probably a lot of you already know about this (I first saw it quoted in an old paper of Simon Levin’s), but for those of you who don’t, the following passage is from Dr. Seuss‘ On Beyond Zebra:And NUH is the letter I use to spell Nutches Who live in small caves, known as Niches, for hutches. These Nutches have troubles, the biggest of which is The fact there are many more Nutches than Niches. Each Nutch in a Nich knows that some other Nutch Would like to move into his Nich very much. So each Nutch in a Nich has to watch that small Nich Or Nutches who haven’t got Niches will snitch.
Dr. Seuss: community ecologist.
Say what you like about niche theory, but it generates better verse than neutral theory.
Ah, evidently not the Grinnellean niche, then.
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OK, now I really want to know if that’s a deliberate reference to Hutchinson. And I want to find a way to work this into a homework problem.
Sorry to be a party-pooper, but I highly doubt it’s a deliberate reference to Hutchinson. “Niche” has an ordinary English meaning, and I think it’s clear from the art accompanying the poem that that’s what Seuss was thinking of. He was just imagining these little critters in little caves, one to a cave, with not enough caves to go around.
None of which should stop you from making it into an exam question. 😉
Now someone just needs to write a children’s poem about stabilizing and equalizing mechanisms…
Of course the rhyming doesn’t work if you use the British English pronunciation of “niche”…… 😉
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