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Taxonomic and Geographic Bias in Conservation Biology Research: A Systematic Review of Wildfowl Demography Studies.

Roberts, BE and Harris, WE and Hilton, GM and Marsden, SJ (2016) Taxonomic and Geographic Bias in Conservation Biology Research: A Systematic Review of Wildfowl Demography Studies. PLoS One, 11.

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Abstract

Demographic data are important to wildlife managers to gauge population health, to allow populations to be utilised sustainably, and to inform conservation efforts. We analysed published demographic data on the world's wildfowl to examine taxonomic and geographic biases in study, and to identify gaps in knowledge. Wildfowl (order: Anseriformes) are a comparatively well studied bird group which includes 169 species of duck, goose and swan. In all, 1,586 wildfowl research papers published between 1911 and 2010 were found using Web of Knowledge (WoK) and Google Scholar. Over half of the research output involved just 15 species from seven genera. Research output was strongly biased towards 'high income' countries, common wildfowl species, and measures of productivity, rather than survival and movement patterns. There were significantly fewer demographic data for the world's 31 threatened wildfowl species than for non-threatened species. Since 1994, the volume of demographic work on threatened species has increased more than for non-threatened species, but still makes up only 2.7% of total research output. As an aid to research prioritisation, a metric was created to reflect demographic knowledge gaps for each species related to research output for the species, its threat status, and availability of potentially useful surrogate data from congeneric species. According to the metric, the 25 highest priority species include thirteen threatened taxa and nine species each from Asia and South America, and six from Africa.

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