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Where has all our research gone? A 20-year assessment of the peer-reviewed wildlife conservation literature


We conducted a review of the wildlife conservation literature to identify broad trends in the publishing record and focal areas of research over the past 20 years. A total of 5,853 papers were reviewed with an emphasis on decadal changes between 1993, 2002, and 2012. For each paper we identified the journal and common keywords, and also determined the research scope, conservation issues and applications, and geographic focus. We found that both the numer of journals publishing in the field, as well as the number of published articles, has increased significantly over time. The proportional contribution of the most prominent journals in the field has decreased over time, but not the importance of the articles within those journals. Previously reported biases in the literature towards mammlas and birds persisted in our study, leaving large proportions of globally threatened taxa (e.g. amphibians) underrepresented. There was als a disparity in the number of publications from particular geographic regions, however the proportional contribution of under-represented geographic regions (e.g. Central & South America) increased over time. Finally, using the prevalence of keywords, we identified wildlife/adaptive management, hunting/bushmeat, and human wildlife conflict as contemporary (1998-2012) research priorities. The persistence of biases towards charismatic taxa can hinder conservation efforts, and we suggest that researchers refocus their efforts towards vulnerable regions and taxa in order to better address conservation priorities.

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