After reading in our lab journal club the very interesting paper by Altermatt et al. (2015) in Methods in Ecology & Evolution on protist systems, I wondered if standardization – as partly suggested by these authors for their organism group – would also make sense for other areas of ecology. Would it make sense to standardize, in terms of experimental conditions (like growth substrates, genotypes used, conditions) and analysis methods or response variables, also in other areas of ecology?
Would we make more progress in certain areas of (community) ecology by focussing in on certain systems? Would there be more rapid progress in fungal ecology if we also agreed on similar sets of parameters (isolates, media, growth conditions, response variables) as proposed in this paper for protist experimental systems?
Or is there a benefit also to the diversity of systems? Clearly external validity (the degree to which results can be generalized) is greater with a wide diversity of systems, and also in meta-analyses you can take into account differences in settings and responses, as long as there is a sufficiently large data base.
Benefits are clearly evident for both approaches, and it is fun to think about and to discuss (as we are here)…