Global trends and biases in biodiversity conservation research

Friday, March 15th from 12:30 to 13:30 in Askja N131

by Dr Dr Áki Jarl Láruson, Population Geneticist at Hafrannsóknarstofnun

Efforts to conserve biodiversity have been hampered by long-standing biases, including a disproportionate focus on particular taxa and ecosystems with minimal attention to underlying genetic diversity. We assessed whether these biases have persisted over the past four decades by analyzing trends in over 17 thousand research articles published in four top conservation-focused journals. Overall, we found that historical biases in conservation biology research remain entrenched. Despite increasing numbers of conservation articles published each decade from 1980 to 2020, research effort has increasingly focused on the same suite of taxa. Surprisingly, some of the most studied species in these conservation articles had low conservation risk, including several domesticated animals. Animals and terrestrial ecosystems are consistently over-represented while plants, fungi, and freshwater ecosystems remain under-represented. Strategically funding investigations of understudied species and ecosystems will ensure more effective conservation effort across multiple levels of biodiversity, alleviate impediments to biodiversity targets, and ultimately prevent further extinctions.

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