Gauses Contributions

Gause's book was influential on future studies in the areas of competition, the niche, and species coexistence. His approach of experimentally testing mathematical models has become a standard for ecologists, and his experimental results have become common textbook examples of competition and predator-prey interactions. In the years following publication of his book, various authors referred to the 'competitive exclusion principle' as Gause's hypothesis, axiom, law, postulate, contention, or thesis. However, it was not until Hardin (1960) that the term 'competitive exclusion principle' was coined. The article summarized the historical development of the principle and its various uses in ecology. Hardin also provided a critique of the principle and ecologists' ability to test it. For example, the CEP is not falsifiable: extinction between competitors provides support for it, but if species coexist, then the conclusion is that the species must somehow be ecologically different. Nonetheless, competition experiments dominate the ecological literature to this day, and the approaches have become more quantitative and rigorous in experimental designs.

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