Effects of publication bias on conservation planning.
Hickisch R., Hodgetts T., Johnson PJ., Sillero-Zubiri C., Tockner K., Macdonald DW.
Conservation planers need reliable information on spatial patterns of biodiversity. However, existing data sets are skewed because some ecosystems, taxa, and locations are underrepresented. We determined how many articles have been published in recent decades on the biodiversity of different countries and their constituent provinces. We searched the Web of Science catalogues SCI and SSCI for biodiversity-related articles published from 1993 to 2016 that included country and province names. We combined data on research publication frequency with other provincial-scale factors hypothesized to affect the likelihood of research activity (i.e., economic development, human presence, infrastructure, and remoteness). Areas that appeared understudied relative to the biodiversity expected based on site climate likely have been inaccessible to researchers for reasons, notably armed conflict. Geographic publication bias is of most concern in the most remote areas of sub-Saharan Africa and South America. Our provincial-scale model may help compensate for publication biases in conservation planning by revealing the spatial extent of research needs and the low cost of redoing this analysis annually. This article is protected by copyright. All rights reserved.