|First trout caught on a tenkara rod.|
In modern ecological science, we have become obsessed with creating complex mathematical models and statistics that allow us to find significance where there is none. Now, don't get me wrong, there is a place for models and fancy statistical methods, but I believe they are overused at the expense of important naturalistic observation. I propose that we ecologists need to take a lesson from Tenkara. The most efficient and most beautiful way to do things is often the simplest way. Let me provide a more concrete example. In modern salmonid management, vast resources are spent in an effort to predict exact recruitment numbers, fecundities, and food consumption in many systems. While valuable in many cases, little is known about a great many species that interact with these salmonids. Maybe if we knew some of the basic behaviours and movement patterns of the non-game species in these systems, we would have a better understanding of how to manage the salmonids as part of an entire community animals.
It is understandable that scientists want to be on the cutting edge of their field. Doing things that could be done with the technology of fifty or even a hundred years ago does not wow other academics. But if we want to understand how to manage fisheries and not just fish, we need to understand the basic, observable characteristics of all species in a community, not just have very complex models of a single species. Maybe it's time to get back to the basics.