Australasian Science: Australia's authority on science since 1938

Conservation Research Isn’t Happening in the Right Places

By Kerrie Wilson

Conservation research is not being done in the countries where it’s most needed, and this will undermine efforts to preserve global biodiversity.

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Biodiversity and the threats to its persistence are not uniformly distributed across the globe, and therefore some areas demand comparatively greater scientific attention. If research is biased away from the most biodiverse areas, this will accentuate the impacts of the global biodiversity crisis and reduce our capacity to protect and manage the natural ecosystems that underpin human well-being.

We have analysed more than 10,000 conservation science papers from more than 1000 journals published since 2014. We then compared the countries where these studies were done (and by whom) with where most of the world’s biodiversity is found. What we found suggested a massive mismatch in terms of need and effort. The countries for which knowledge is sparse coincide with where research is most urgently needed.

For example, the top five countries, ranked according to relative importance for mammal conservation (i.e. Indonesia, Madagascar, Peru, Mexico and Australia), were represented in 11.9% of the publications. However our determination, based on relative importance for investment in mammal conservation, was that these countries should be represented in 37.2% of the publications. We determined that the United States should be represented in approximately 0.5% of the publications yet it was the subject of approximately 17.8% of the publications and was the most studied...

The full text of this article can be purchased from Informit.