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Which Species Are We Researching and Why? A Case Study of the Ecology of British Breeding Birds.

McKenzie AJ, Robertson PA - PLoS ONE (2015)

Bottom Line: Widespread, populous species which are native, resident and in receipt of biodiversity action plans produced significantly higher publication metrics.Guild was also significant, birds of prey the most studied group, with pigeons and doves the least studied.We suggest that the use of publication metrics in this way provides a novel approach to understanding the scale and drivers of both research quantity and impact at a species level and could be widely applied, both taxonomically and geographically.

View Article: PubMed Central - PubMed

Affiliation: Centre for Wildlife Management, School of Biology, Newcastle University, Ridley Building, Claremont Road, Newcastle upon Tyne, United Kingdom.

ABSTRACT
Our ecological knowledge base is extensive, but the motivations for research are many and varied, leading to unequal species representation and coverage. As this evidence is used to support a wide range of conservation, management and policy actions, it is important that gaps and biases are identified and understood. In this paper we detail a method for quantifying research effort and impact at the individual species level, and go on to investigate the factors that best explain between-species differences in outputs. We do this using British breeding birds as a case study, producing a ranked list of species based on two scientific publication metrics: total number of papers (a measure of research quantity) and h-index (a measure of the number of highly cited papers on a topic--an indication of research quality). Widespread, populous species which are native, resident and in receipt of biodiversity action plans produced significantly higher publication metrics. Guild was also significant, birds of prey the most studied group, with pigeons and doves the least studied. The model outputs for both metrics were very similar, suggesting that, at least in this example, research quantity and quality were highly correlated. The results highlight three key gaps in the evidence base, with fewer citations and publications relating to migrant breeders, introduced species and species which have experienced contractions in distribution. We suggest that the use of publication metrics in this way provides a novel approach to understanding the scale and drivers of both research quantity and impact at a species level and could be widely applied, both taxonomically and geographically.

No MeSH data available.


Related in: MedlinePlus

Mean publication metrics (± 1SE) in relation to changing bird distributions over the last 20 years.Species which have had stable distributions over this period have significantly higher metrics than increasing or declining species combined (no. papers: Kruskal Wallis χ2 = 8.71, p<0.005; h index: χ2 = 10.66, p<0.005).
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pone.0131004.g003: Mean publication metrics (± 1SE) in relation to changing bird distributions over the last 20 years.Species which have had stable distributions over this period have significantly higher metrics than increasing or declining species combined (no. papers: Kruskal Wallis χ2 = 8.71, p<0.005; h index: χ2 = 10.66, p<0.005).

Mentions: The univariate comparisons showed total number of papers and h-index to be significantly lower for introduced than native species (Kruskal Wallis χ2 = 6.51, p<0.05 and χ2 = 7.58, p<0.01 respectively). BAP status was also a significant predictor of h-index, species with BAPs having typically higher h-indices (χ2 = 5.06, p<0.05; Fig 2B). This was not the case for total number of papers (χ2 = 2.57, p = 0.11; Fig 2A). Neither publication metrics were significantly influenced by Red List status (total papers: χ2 = 0.92, p = 0.34; h-index: χ2 = 0.82, p = 0.37). Breeding status (resident over migrant) had a significant effect on both metrics (total no. papers: χ2 = 15.33, p<0.001; h-index: χ2 = 12.49, p<0.001). The effect of guild was significant for h-index and close to significance for total number of papers (χ2 = 19.29, p<0.05; χ2 = 17.03, p = 0.07). There was no significant difference between the numbers of papers or h-indices for stable/increasing species and declining species (20 year trend—no. papers: χ2 = 0.14, p = 0.93; h-index: χ2 = 2.01, p = 0.37, 40 year trend–no. papers: χ2 = 5.17, p = 0.08; h-index: χ2 = 3.98, p = 0.14), however when stable populations were considered alongside increasing and declining species combined, stable populations had significantly higher metrics (stable vs. increasing and declining—no. papers: Kruskal Wallis χ2 = 8.71, p<0.005; h-index: χ2 = 10.66, p<0.005; Fig 3). Species which have undergone very severe range contractions over the last 20 years, on the other hand, (>40% contraction, [16]) have significantly lower publication metrics than those which have undergone minor to moderate declines, remained stable or increased (no. papers: χ2 = 14.35, p<0.001; h-index: χ2 = 13.67, p<0.001; Fig 4). Full outputs are given in S2 Table.


Which Species Are We Researching and Why? A Case Study of the Ecology of British Breeding Birds.

McKenzie AJ, Robertson PA - PLoS ONE (2015)

Mean publication metrics (± 1SE) in relation to changing bird distributions over the last 20 years.Species which have had stable distributions over this period have significantly higher metrics than increasing or declining species combined (no. papers: Kruskal Wallis χ2 = 8.71, p<0.005; h index: χ2 = 10.66, p<0.005).
© Copyright Policy
Related In: Results  -  Collection

License
Show All Figures
getmorefigures.php?uid=PMC4496060&req=5

pone.0131004.g003: Mean publication metrics (± 1SE) in relation to changing bird distributions over the last 20 years.Species which have had stable distributions over this period have significantly higher metrics than increasing or declining species combined (no. papers: Kruskal Wallis χ2 = 8.71, p<0.005; h index: χ2 = 10.66, p<0.005).
Mentions: The univariate comparisons showed total number of papers and h-index to be significantly lower for introduced than native species (Kruskal Wallis χ2 = 6.51, p<0.05 and χ2 = 7.58, p<0.01 respectively). BAP status was also a significant predictor of h-index, species with BAPs having typically higher h-indices (χ2 = 5.06, p<0.05; Fig 2B). This was not the case for total number of papers (χ2 = 2.57, p = 0.11; Fig 2A). Neither publication metrics were significantly influenced by Red List status (total papers: χ2 = 0.92, p = 0.34; h-index: χ2 = 0.82, p = 0.37). Breeding status (resident over migrant) had a significant effect on both metrics (total no. papers: χ2 = 15.33, p<0.001; h-index: χ2 = 12.49, p<0.001). The effect of guild was significant for h-index and close to significance for total number of papers (χ2 = 19.29, p<0.05; χ2 = 17.03, p = 0.07). There was no significant difference between the numbers of papers or h-indices for stable/increasing species and declining species (20 year trend—no. papers: χ2 = 0.14, p = 0.93; h-index: χ2 = 2.01, p = 0.37, 40 year trend–no. papers: χ2 = 5.17, p = 0.08; h-index: χ2 = 3.98, p = 0.14), however when stable populations were considered alongside increasing and declining species combined, stable populations had significantly higher metrics (stable vs. increasing and declining—no. papers: Kruskal Wallis χ2 = 8.71, p<0.005; h-index: χ2 = 10.66, p<0.005; Fig 3). Species which have undergone very severe range contractions over the last 20 years, on the other hand, (>40% contraction, [16]) have significantly lower publication metrics than those which have undergone minor to moderate declines, remained stable or increased (no. papers: χ2 = 14.35, p<0.001; h-index: χ2 = 13.67, p<0.001; Fig 4). Full outputs are given in S2 Table.

Bottom Line: Widespread, populous species which are native, resident and in receipt of biodiversity action plans produced significantly higher publication metrics.Guild was also significant, birds of prey the most studied group, with pigeons and doves the least studied.We suggest that the use of publication metrics in this way provides a novel approach to understanding the scale and drivers of both research quantity and impact at a species level and could be widely applied, both taxonomically and geographically.

View Article: PubMed Central - PubMed

Affiliation: Centre for Wildlife Management, School of Biology, Newcastle University, Ridley Building, Claremont Road, Newcastle upon Tyne, United Kingdom.

ABSTRACT
Our ecological knowledge base is extensive, but the motivations for research are many and varied, leading to unequal species representation and coverage. As this evidence is used to support a wide range of conservation, management and policy actions, it is important that gaps and biases are identified and understood. In this paper we detail a method for quantifying research effort and impact at the individual species level, and go on to investigate the factors that best explain between-species differences in outputs. We do this using British breeding birds as a case study, producing a ranked list of species based on two scientific publication metrics: total number of papers (a measure of research quantity) and h-index (a measure of the number of highly cited papers on a topic--an indication of research quality). Widespread, populous species which are native, resident and in receipt of biodiversity action plans produced significantly higher publication metrics. Guild was also significant, birds of prey the most studied group, with pigeons and doves the least studied. The model outputs for both metrics were very similar, suggesting that, at least in this example, research quantity and quality were highly correlated. The results highlight three key gaps in the evidence base, with fewer citations and publications relating to migrant breeders, introduced species and species which have experienced contractions in distribution. We suggest that the use of publication metrics in this way provides a novel approach to understanding the scale and drivers of both research quantity and impact at a species level and could be widely applied, both taxonomically and geographically.

No MeSH data available.


Related in: MedlinePlus