Question: what are the best examples of ecological theory “anticipating” future data? Or being “preadapted” to future data?
By that I mean, what are the best examples of ecological theory that was mostly or entirely disconnected from data at the time it was developed, and that didn’t immediately inspire any empirical tests of its predictions, but that turned out to aid interpretation of subsequent data? Examples of ecological theory that, at the time is was developed, seemed to be of purely mathematical interest, or like a solution in search of a problem. But then later, an empirical problem came along to which that theory just so happened to provide a pre-existing solution.
If the possibility I’m asking about seems far-fetched, well, I assure you it’s not. There are actually-existing examples from other fields, on which I hope we’ll have a future post. But for now, let’s all try to think of ecological examples. Looking forward to your comments.
p.s. I look forward to this post getting approximately minus-7 pageviews. 🙂 It’s the sort of niche, non-newsy topic that never draws much interest. Plus, you know, COVID-19. But that’s ok, because (i) we don’t set out to chase traffic, and (ii) Meghan’s advice for grad students and mentors during the COVID-19 outbreak just drew two typical weeks worth of pageviews for us in 24 hours. I feel like we’ve been doing our bit lately in terms of writing useful, timely stuff than people want to read. So I’m fine with indulging myself by posting something that nobody wants to read. 🙂