Papers in the Biological Sciences


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Published in Austral Ecology 25:4 (August 2000), pp. 327–331; doi: 10.1046/j.1442-9993.2000.01043.x


Copyright © 2000 Andrew J. Tyre, Brigitte Tenhumberg, Michael A. McCarthy, and Hugh P. Possingham. Published for the Ecological Society of Australia by Wiley-Blackwell. Used by permission.


Testing ecological models for management is an increasingly important part of the maturation of ecology as an applied science. Consequently, we need to work at applying fair tests of models with adequate data. We demonstrate that a recent test of a discrete time, stochastic model was biased towards falsifying the predictions. If the model was a perfect description of reality, the test falsified the predictions 84% of the time. We introduce an alternative testing procedure for stochastic models, and show that it falsifies the predictions only 5% of the time when the model is a perfect description of reality. The example is used as a point of departure to discuss some of the philosophical aspects of model testing.

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