Changing trends and persisting biases in three decades of conservation science

Di Marco, Moreno, Chapman, Sarah, Althor, Glenn, Kearney, Stephen, Besancon, Charles, Butt, Nathalie, Maina, Joseph M. , Possingham, Hugh P. , Bieberstein, Katharina Rogalla von, Venter, Oscar and Watson, James E. M. (2017) Changing trends and persisting biases in three decades of conservation science. Global Ecology and Conservation, 10 32-42. doi:10.1016/j.gecco.2017.01.008


Author Di Marco, Moreno
Chapman, Sarah
Althor, Glenn
Kearney, Stephen
Besancon, Charles
Butt, Nathalie
Maina, Joseph M.
Possingham, Hugh P.
Bieberstein, Katharina Rogalla von
Venter, Oscar
Watson, James E. M.
Title Changing trends and persisting biases in three decades of conservation science
Journal name Global Ecology and Conservation   Check publisher's open access policy
ISSN 2351-9894
Publication date 2017-04-01
Sub-type Article (original research)
DOI 10.1016/j.gecco.2017.01.008
Open Access Status DOI
Volume 10
Start page 32
End page 42
Total pages 11
Place of publication Amsterdam, Netherlands
Publisher Elsevier BV
Language eng
Abstract Conservation science is a rapidly developing discipline, and the knowledge base it generates is relevant for practical applications. It is therefore crucial to monitor biases and trends in conservation literature, to track the progress of the discipline and re-align efforts where needed. We evaluated past and present trends in the focus of the conservation literature, and how they relate to conservation needs. We defined the focus of the past literature from 13 published reviews referring to 18,369 article classifications, and the focus of the current literature by analysing 2553 articles published between 2011–2015. We found that some of the historically under-studied biodiversity elements are receiving significantly more attention today, despite being still under-represented. The total proportion of articles on invertebrates, genetic diversity, or aquatic systems is 50%–60% higher today than it was before 2010. However, a disconnect between scientific focus and conservation needs is still present, with greater attention devoted to areas or taxa less rich in biodiversity and threatened biodiversity. In particular, a strong geographical bias persists, with 40% of studies carried out in USA, Australia or the UK, and only 10% and 6% respectively in Africa or South East Asia. Despite some changing trends, global conservation science is still poorly aligned with biodiversity distribution and conservation priorities, especially in relation to threatened species. To overcome the biases identified here, scientists, funding agencies and journals must prioritise research adaptively, based on biodiversity conservation needs. Conservation depends on policy makers and practitioners for success, and scientists should actively provide those who make decisions with the knowledge that best addresses their needs.
Keyword Conservation bias
Convention on biological diversity
Freshwater
Genetic diversity
Invertebrates
Literature trends
Q-Index Code C1
Q-Index Status Provisional Code
Institutional Status UQ

Document type: Journal Article
Sub-type: Article (original research)
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