Published online by Cambridge University Press: 01 April 2021
This chapter promotes my methodological thoughts on carrying out an ecological investigation through observations, analyses of data, and interpretation of the results. These are the thoughts that I have conceived while studying outbreak processes of the spruce budworm, Choristoneura fumiferana, in eastern Canada. In particular, I critically examine the early ideas (hypotheses) of the processes in which an outbreak is initiated and is spread over wide areas: namely, the formation of epicentres and the dichotomy of epidemic–endemic states of budworm populations. My re-analyses of the original data reveal that these ideas are neither conceivable theoretically nor substantiated observationally. This finding leads me to delve into methodological fundamentals in ecological studies of populations in general: the amalgamation of empirical and theoretical ecology and how to achieve it.