Large carnivores with large geographic ranges better-studied

Apr 02, 2014

Scientists tend to study larger carnivores with larger geographic ranges than those with greater adaptability and broader diets, according to results published April 2, 2014, in the open access journal PLOS ONE by Zoe Brooke and colleagues from Zoological Society of London.

Scientists need to evaluate research efforts and their effectiveness in order to meet the conservation needs of a wider range of species which may be threatened due to habitat loss, exploitation, and climate change. The characteristics of the species themselves may influence how much we study them, possibly creating a bias in our understanding of this diverse group of animals. In an effort to better identify patterns and causes in carnivore research, the authors combined bibliometric information they obtained from ~16,500 published papers on the Order Carnivora-a well-known group of 286 species-with information on the species' life history and ecological traits.

The researchers identified a wide variation in intensity of research effort for carnivores, with some of the least-studied species being those that are predicted to become increasingly threatened. Better-studied species tended to be large-bodied and have a large geographic range, but omnivores were less-studied overall. The IUCN threat status did not show a strong relationship with research effort, which suggests that the actual conservation needs of individual species are not major drivers of research interest. Instead, the researchers suggest that there may be a complex role of human perspective in the planning of research agendas. The authors hope that these results could be combined with other conservation resources to prioritize and co-ordinate future research effort.

Zoe Brooke added, "Out of the top 20 most studied species, most are larger species with large geographic ranges, like black bear and brown bear. There also is a strong geographic bias, with 16 residing in North America and Europe - the exceptions include large charismatic like lions, tigers and cheetah."

Explore further: Genes and calls reveal five-fold greater diversity of Amazon frog species

More information: Brooke ZM, Bielby J, Nambiar K, Carbone C (2014) Correlates of Research Effort in Carnivores: Body Size, Range Size and Diet Matter. PLoS ONE 9(4): e93195. DOI: 10.1371/journal.pone.0093195

add to favorites email to friend print save as pdf

Related Stories

Recommended for you

Preserving crucial tern habitat in Long Island Sound

2 hours ago

Great Gull Island is home to one of the most important nesting habitats for Roseate and Common terns in the world. The estimated 1,300 pairs of Roseate terns that summer on the 17-acre island at the eastern ...

California's sea otter numbers holding steady

2 hours ago

When a sea otter wants to rest, it wraps a piece of kelp around its body to hold itself steady among the rolling waves. Likewise, California's sea otter numbers are holding steady despite many forces pushing ...

22 elephants poached in Mozambique in two weeks

16 hours ago

Poachers slaughtered 22 elephants in Mozambique in the first two weeks of September, environmentalists said Monday, warning that killing for ivory by organised syndicates was being carried out on an "industrialised" ...

Pakistan releases smuggled turtles into the wild

21 hours ago

Pakistani officials and environmentalists on Monday released some 200 rare turtles into the River Indus after the reptiles were retrieved from a southwestern Chinese town where they were seized by customs ...

User comments : 0