ChapterPDF Available

Are Journal Impact Factors another key threatening process for Australian fauna?

Authors:

Abstract

We are concerned at how research agendas of science, and conservation biology in particular, are potentially being deformed by the dominant influence of a single entity, Journal Impact Factors, which in turn reflect the business model of the USA-based global corporate entity Thomson Reuters. We are particularly concerned that this single metric results in systematic suppression of research vital for conservation biology in Australia. We outline the ways by which Journal Impact Factors impact negatively on the kinds of research which underpin the conservation of Australia’s biodiversity. We argue that the influence of this scheme on Australian science needs to be changed. A new formula will require a much greater emphasis on an Australian, not an American, perspective, and a decoupling of the metric of impact factor from a business model for publishing houses.
Problems caused by Journal
Impact Factors
To judge whether scientists should be employed, promoted,
or receive grant funding, an employer or grant provider will
often rely on a quantifiable score of the scientists’ research.
The quality of the journals in which a scientist publishes
is often used as a measure of the quality of the research.
In effect, the journal in which the research is published is
used as a surrogate for an individual’s research quality. The
theory is that the ‘better’ the journal, the better, and more
significant, is the research. There is a variety of metrics
used to rank these journals, such as SCOPUS’s two annual
measures of journal usage, SCImago journal rank (SJR)
and Source Normalized Impact per Paper (SNIP), as well
as a range of values including mean citations/paper, median
citations/paper and various eigenvalue statistics (Bryant and
Calver 2011; Calver and Bryant 2008; Calver et al. 2010;
Calver et al. in press). However, the most widely used metric
is the Journal Impact Factor (JIF). It is the average number
of citations received per paper published over the previous
two years (Garfield 2006). The international information
company Thomson Reuters (parent of the USA-based
global corporate entity formerly called Thomson Scientific
and Thomson ISI) calculates the index yearly based on
journals registered in their Journal Citation Reports.
While this might seem a fair measure of a scientist’s worth,
in that the standard for acceptance for a high-impact
journal is higher than for a lower impact journal, there are
negative effects of JIFs for Australian scientists, endemic
fauna, and Australian ecosystems (see Bryant and Calver
2011 for a recent discussion). These include:
a. an ever-narrowing range of research topics, biased
against many critical conservation concerns in Australia;
b. a narrowing of acceptable methodological approaches,
with a bias toward purely quantitative methods;
c. an oddly-stylised way of writing, which makes a paper
look international and removes references to local
management, conservation and ecological problems.
It encourages overused phrases, such as “the rate of
biodiversity loss is a global problem”, with an international
reference (such as Sala et al. 2000, which has been cited
over 1,500 times), no matter what the research question;
d. ‘international’ has a geographic bias towards North
America;
e. not all journals have been assigned a JIF by Thomson
Reuters, thereby being excluded from the definition of
high-ranking;
f. the loss of basic ecological field data, which is seen
as being too expensive, too lengthy, too localised and
too restricted in sample sizes for immediate scientific
impact (Noss 1996, Lindenmayer and Likens 2011).
It has been predicted that neither meta-analyses nor
systematic reviews will be possible in the future due to
the lack of field data (Whittaker 2010);
g. the loss of taxonomic research, because most journals
that publish taxonomy are low-ranked (Krell 2000,
2002). Taxonomists are already in decline, hence
much biodiversity will be lost without description
(Uniyal 2011).
Are Journal Impact Factors another key
threatening process for Australian fauna?
The potential bias from Journal Impact Factors in the selection of
subjects for research and publication
Mathew S. Crowther1, Daniel Lunney2,3 and Harry Parnaby2
1School of Biological Sciences, University of Sydney, NSW 2006, Australia.
2Office of Environment and Heritage, PO Box 1967, Hurstville NSW 2220, Australia.
3School of Biological Sciences and Biotechnology, Murdoch University, Murdoch, WA 6150, Australia.
ABSTRACT
We are concerned at how research agendas of science, and conservation biology in particular, are
potentially being deformed by the dominant influence of a single entity, Journal Impact Factors,
which in turn reflect the business model of the USA-based global corporate entity Thomson
Reuters. We are particularly concerned that this single metric results in systematic suppression
of research vital for conservation biology in Australia. We outline the ways by which Journal
Impact Factors impact negatively on the kinds of research which underpin the conservation of
Australia’s biodiversity. We argue that the influence of this scheme on Australian science needs
to be changed. A new formula will require a much greater emphasis on an Australian, not an
American, perspective, and a decoupling of the metric of impact factor from a business model
for publishing houses.
Key words: ISI, journal ranking, ERA, ARC, citation rates, key threatening process.
Pp13 4 -139 in Science under siege: zoology under threat, edited by Peter Banks, Daniel Lunney and Chris Dickman.
Royal Zoological Society of New South Wales, Mosman, NSW, Australia. 2012.
DOI : 10.7882/FS.2012.049
135
Journal Impact Factors and Australian fauna
Science under Siege
Bryant and Calver (2011) have produced a devastating
critique of the limitations of publishing power on science,
particularly Australian natural history, and the essential
ecological studies needed to understand and conserve
Australian fauna. There are other ethical issues for
scientists and journals, including ‘unpopular’ subjects and
small fields being neglected, and unethical authorship
selections (Werner 2009). However, in this paper we
concentrate on the more direct impacts on the Australian
fauna and its conservation.
A colleague recently complained to us that several of the
manuscripts that he had produced for symposia in the past
(e.g. on the endangered Green & Golden Bell Frog Litoria
aurea, published by the Royal Zoological Society of NSW)
had more than 20 citations each, yet remain mostly
invisible to the international community. This means
that Thomson is deciding, on commercial and North
American grounds, whether an Australian zoologist’s
work gets recognised or not.
In fact, many of our colleagues and students have
mentioned to us how their work was obstructively
influenced by JIFs:
•by being restricted by excessive emphasis on the elitist
approach to publishing;
•the allocation of funding, grants (especially from the
Australian Research Council) and academic positions
to scientists who maximise their publications in the
international literature;
•a change in prestige, and thus support, away from
research important to conservation and management
at the local scale, particularly in academic institutions.
More recently, the Australian Research Council (ARC)
replaced the JIF with the Excellence for Research in
Australia (ERA) Index to rank these journals. The ERA
ranking system comprised committees of academics who
subjectively placed all journals into one of four categories
(A*, A, B or C), based on the perceived importance of the
journal in the field. This was set aside in 2011, but will be
replaced with a similar metric. Although the ERA seemed
to have the benefit of being fairer than the JIF to diverse
disciplines (studies in zoology, ecology and wildlife research
cannot get into journals with high citations such as Cell),
we believe it would have had the same consequences for
Australian wildlife, ecosystems and scientists as the JIF.
Mike Calver (pers. comm. 2011, Murdoch University
WA) has pointed out that the ERA changes in 2011 are
essentially the end of the ranking system, which will be
replaced with ‘a journal quality profile, showing the most
frequently published journals for each unit of evaluation’.
Calver’s reading is that the ranking system, for all its flaws,
was transparent. The ARC’s response has been to create
the opaque ‘journal quality profile’, which Calver says will
be just as bad, but which will not attract much criticism
because nobody knows what it is.
Another view, clearly articulated by Harry Recher (former
editor of Pacific Conservation Biology) in reading a draft of
this paper, is that, “all ranking systems should be dispensed
with as being counter-productive in basically the ways the
authors are suggesting. If journals are to be ranked, then
we need a quantitative system that objectively scores
each journal without prejudice. It is also inappropriate to
place all journals in the same basket, as different fields of
science differ wildly in the amount of research conducted,
funding, number of players, number of journals, and so on.
To compare excellent taxonomic research with excellent
cancer research is impossible and has only led to the
denigration of taxonomic studies, for example.”
Mike Calver, the current editor of Pacific Conservation
Biology, has taken a strong interest in this matter, which
helps others penetrate this arcane world of journal
ranking. For example, Calver and Bryant (2008) were
able, after some considerable effort, to calculate that
Pacific Conservation Biology is picked up internationally,
despite not having an ISI listing, and that the journal is
comparably cited to similar journals that are listed. Calver
et al. (2010) asked: “what makes a journal international?”
From a case study using conservation biology journals,
they concluded that the assessments do not reflect on
quality, but may aid editors planning distinctive journal
profiles, or authors seeking appropriate outlets. Calver
et al. (in press) analysed Australasian Plant Pathology’s
authorship and readership 2001–2010, and found that
it makes a broad regional contribution with global
recognition, given its increasing proportion of authors
from outside Australia, the many countries citing it,
and its use relative to similar journals. Mike Calver
also directed us to the insightful paper entitled: ‘The
top-ten in journal impact factor manipulation’ (Falagas
and Alexiou 2008). They noted that a considerable part
of the scientific community is, at least to some degree,
involved in the ‘impact factor game’, and concluded that
editors and publishers should strive for quality through
fair and thoughtful selection of papers forwarded for peer
review, and editorial comments that enhance the quality
and scientific accuracy of a manuscript. Thus, a detailed
analysis of JIFs and related metrics can yield a story that
is far more complicated than how the quality of a paper,
and by inference the scientist, is related to a journal’s
JIF. It is a misleading statistic and should not be relied
upon to judge the merits of either a journal or a piece of
research, or the researchers themselves.
We are concerned that some of the finest Australian
journals (e.g. Austral Ecology, Emu, Wildlife Research),
in aiming for a higher international standing may, in
the process, be in danger of being seduced to accept a
narrower range of papers (for example less on regional
Australian studies and fauna) to gain a higher JIF. This
is almost certainly linked to economics. With fewer
publishing houses involved, the goal appears to be to make
a profit by increasing the market rather than encouraging
research or fostering communication which would help
the management and conservation of the Australian
fauna. The issues are not simple, as may be implied, and,
as Harry Recher (pers. comm. 2011) points out, it may
be not so much that the journals will have narrowed the
range of papers they seek to publish, but that they may
place more emphasis on papers from overseas that may
not be of the same quality as Australian work they reject.
136
Crowther et al.
Science under Siege
Does ‘international’ really mean
‘America’?
Most ‘high-impact’ journals are USA-based (the base of
Thomson Reuters), followed by British, European and
Canadian journals. A search of the Web of Knowledge
(Thomson Reuters’ online journal search engine), using
‘conservation’ as a search term, between the years 1996
to 2007, demonstrates that the vast majority of references
come from the USA, followed by England, Germany,
France and Canada (Figure 1).
While this dominance reflects relative national research
efforts – there has been far more research undertaken
and published in North America than Australia – it
nevertheless, in our view, tends to bias conservation
research towards Northern Hemisphere researchers, taxa
and conservation priorities. Australian-based examples
are less likely to be used, hence problems unique to
Australian landscapes are underplayed as not being
‘international’ enough. Such unique Australian issues
include eucalypt forests, long-distance fauna movement
patterns, and the consequences for the biota of the
erratic rainfall patterns of the arid inland. One of the
ways of addressing this bias is to produce Australian text
books, and that was the stimulus for Recher et al. (1979,
1986) producing their text, and Calver et al. (2009)
assembling their outstanding contribution to Australian
books in this market. However, recognising the problem
is not all that is required. We need to see the Australian
issues in our selection of problems to solve, including
how to frame our questions and how we present work
for publication. This point is not just for researchers, it
is critical that those who judge the scientists and their
publications see the value of tackling Australian issues
with our national interests at heart.
Journal Impact Factors loom as
a key threatening process to the
Australian fauna
The hegemony of the JIF listing process, and the possible
replacement by a process similar to the ERA, has created
a divide between journals deemed valuable and those of
lesser importance.
Since many Australian researchers perceive career
advancement as depending in part on publication
in ‘international’ journals, authors strive to adapt
research programs and publication output to these
journals. This implies that local journals, such as
Australian Mammalogy, Australian Zoologist and Pacific
Conservation Biology (none of which have been assigned
a JIF by Thomson Reuters) publish only second-rate
science. In our view, these journals exhibit the quality
of science, writing and refereeing equivalent to journals
benefiting from JIFs, and the high quality science of
these journals includes research that is applicable to
the conservation of Australia’s flora and fauna. We
need to be aware of the cultural cringe involved here,
which in this case is yielding to the fact that Thomson
preferentially lists American journals, and appears only
Figure 1. American dominance in the number of Conservation papers in ISI Listed Journals, 1996-2007. Derived from a
search of the Web of Knowledge (Thomson Reuters’ online journal search engine) using conservation as a search term.
137
Journal Impact Factors and Australian fauna
Science under Siege
to list overseas journals to provide breadth. If we have
that awareness, then we have a chance of not deferring
to this ranking system in our choice of research to be
done and researchers to promote.
This ‘scientific apartheid’ creates a situation
where research topics, critical for the conservation
of Australia’s flora and fauna, are excluded or
disadvantaged by journal metrics. Such topics include:
faunal inventories; descriptive taxonomic studies, e.g.
new species; field identification criteria; studies of an
individual population; ecological or natural history
studies of a locally endemic species; and species not
currently in the conservation spotlight, e.g. common
species or those of no commercial importance.
In addition, with ongoing research divisions and funding
cuts to government departments, less of this vital basic
research on the Australian fauna is being conducted. A
further irony is that if such studies get into high impact
international journals, such as Nature or Science, they
have a much lesser impact on their field than in more
specialised journals (Postma 2007).
To illustrate these points, two examples of top-quality
scientific studies which have had high but different
significance for Australian conservation biology are
described.
Example 1: Kreftt’s (1866) paper on
Murray-Darling junction fauna.
Krefft (1866) recorded species that are now long extinct,
such as the numbat Myrmecobius fasciatus and pig-footed
bandicoot Chaeropus ecaudatus. This classic paper would
not be accepted by a journal chasing JIFs, yet such
papers are still being submitted and will in turn become
critical and irreplaceable yardsticks for monitoring
environmental change. Further, such studies will not
be undertaken if the researcher’s aim is international
publication, and if such data were to be acquired in a
larger study, it may not be written up because it would
take time away from writing the papers for international
journals. Adam (2010) has identified the critical role of
natural history study and laments its modern neglect.
Natural history appears to be suffering from the same
issue of being marginalised because of its apparent non-
professional standing, which is a related problem because
the journals which accept natural history papers do not
receive international standing.
Basing impact factors on the past two years of citations
discriminates against baseline studies that will be used
far into the future, such as Krefft’s (1866) paper, in
favour of findings of immediate application, but with
a limited shelf life, such as medical work. Faunal
survey papers have a long shelf life because they
represent a slice of time for endless future reference,
even though they have a low immediate citation
rate. Hence, Australian Zoologist’s commitment to
publishing significant fauna survey work, such as Kutt
et al. (2005). However, on grounds of low international
relevance and likely citation rates, Krefft’s paper would
be rejected by JIF-rated journals.
Papers such as Krefft (1866) continued to be cited at
an ever-increasing rate. Consider the early work in the
species that you are studying. If it is now endangered,
but was once common, then all early references take on
a heightened value. Similarly, it is important to track the
distributional expansion of pest species, and early papers
are valuable, as are earlier papers that deal with control
methods. For little-studied species, a common issue in
Australia, there are so few papers that those published in
earlier decades are all that are available. For those who
are keen on conserving our native fauna, this has grim
implications: scientists and journals will shy away from our
little-known fauna.
Example 2: Llewellyn’s (2006) paper on
one aspect of the biology of the Australian
freshwater fish, the Purple-spotted Gudgeon,
published in Australian Zoologist.
The Royal Zoological Society Council unanimously
endorsed acceptance of this paper and recognised that
it contained invaluable data for fish biologists, despite an
anticipated citation rate of less than three times over the
next decade.
Australian Zoologist has not been assigned a JIF: Thomson
Reuters did not respond to several requests from the
Royal Zoological Society of NSW in 2002, although
the journal is currently being considered for listing.
Australian Zoologist was to be classified as a C under
the ERA, the lowest journal rank. It might be pointed
out that, in the ERA scheme, 50% of all journals fell
into this category. Thus, judging scientific merit only on
international publication citations and the journals in
which papers have been published discriminates against
sound, basic science on native Australian fauna. So
insidious was this ranking system, that some universities
were advising staff not to submit their papers to C class
journals (Shelley Burgin RZS council member, pers.
comm. 2010), while others advised staff not to serve
on editorial boards or referee papers for any but the
top-ranked journals (Harry Recher, pers. comm. 2011).
This would be another blow to the broader endeavour
of ensuring that the basic science of Australia’s fauna
is published and permanently available. Not only do we
need a metric that is fair to the scientists, we critically
need one that values our native fauna and encourages
such study. We need a diversity of metrics to reflect the
diversity that we see in our scientists, or better still,
dispense with any ranking system, because each version
leads to inequalities for both scientists and the subject
of Australian fauna, and no system of ranking can be
objective.
With little apparent international relevance,
Llewellyn’s (2006) fish paper would have been rejected,
had JIF been the goal of Australian Zoologist and the
Royal Zoological Society of NSW. We already suffer a
knowledge gap with respect to our native fauna, and
failure to publish due to rejection based on not fitting
the definition of ‘international relevance’ accentuates
this deficiency.
138
Crowther et al.
Science under Siege
A dilemma facing scientists: what
to study and what component of
their data to publish?
Some topics selected for study will be immediately
relevant internationally, and that is a draw for some
scientists, and their relevance to conserving Australian
fauna or ecosystems is a secondary consideration. If
such a view were to be rewarded with more grants,
better employment prospects, and status in the scientific
community, then that view will become the norm. Then
only the more committed, but less ambitious, researchers,
would put local conservation issues first. Let us suppose
survival in the scientists’ ‘rat-race’ matters, then the
issue becomes “what parts of the data sets gathered in
any one study are to be published?” The first priority is
to submit papers to international journals and, if there
is time, then papers that are of little or no international
relevance are submitted to local journals. The latter
might include papers reporting fauna surveys of the local
area in which the study was conducted, or measures to
alleviate local conservation issues. If these distract the
scientist from moving on to the next international paper,
or a study leading to an international paper, then the
local material is lost. The conservation tragedy mounts
as more and more of such studies remain unpublished,
or unresearched.
Another issue is the length of papers. International journals
usually specify the maximum number of journal pages per
paper, e.g. in highly ranked journals, 6-10 journal pages is
the standard. Does science really work in such tight units?
Some subjects are ill-suited to such restrictions. Historical
accounts of environmental change are usually long, as are
reviews of a major field, and some crisp observations only
warrant two pages. Both the long and the short fall by the
wayside on the international scene, yet both may well be
high-quality science and of great academic merit, but not
commercially worthwhile for an international journal, or
one aiming for international standing.
A dilemma facing journal editors:
Do you accept a paper that is likely
to be rarely cited?
Journal editors are caught in the same trap as scientists
wishing to publish their research, in that the citation rates
of published papers are used as a measure of their quality.
Acceptance for publication of papers on relatively obscure
topics, or of interest to a limited audience, is mostly
limited to journals prioritizing, for example, conservation
of Australia’s biota, adherence to the basic tenets of
science, or papers which are unusual or innovative. On
the other hand, such papers will not be accepted by those
editors, editorial panels and publishing houses which seek
fame and fortune via the path of JIFs.
Conclusion
Journal Impact Factors impose an inappropriate corporate
ethic on scientific publishing, and should not be the
major metric used to allocate resources, determine
academic appointments and gauge the value of Australian
zoological research. In our view, being beholden to
JIFs produces research and publication outcomes which
obstruct, by distorting research priorities, the conservation
of Australia’s biodiversity. The influence of this scheme
on Australian science needs to be corrected. A formula
that gives Australian fauna and Australian ecosystems a
stronger weighting is needed so that Australian scientific
studies and their publication in quality journals are
encouraged. This will require a greater emphasis on
other criteria than Journal Citation Report listing, and a
decoupling of the metric of Journal Impact Factor from
a business model for publishing houses. To persist with
a system that gives so much weight to journal ranking,
based on JIFs, is to downgrade the scientists and subject
matter that promulgate sound science but with a focus
on Australian fauna, ecosystems and their conservation.
In short, Journal Impact Factors place science, or at least
Australian zoological science, under siege.
Acknowledgements
The ideas in this paper benefitted greatly from
discussions with Mike Calver, Chris Dickman, Matt
Greenlees, Aaron Greenville, Dieter Hochuli, Simon
Hudson, Mike Letnic, Bronwyn McAllan, Harry
Recher, Mike Thompson and Jonathan Webb, and
editing by Chris Moon.
References
Adam, P. 2010. The study of natural history – a PPP. Pp 1-15 in
The Natural History of Sydney, edited by D. Lunney, P. Hutchings
and D. Hochuli. Royal Zoological Society of NSW, Mosman,
NSW, Australia.
Bryant, K. A. and Calver, M. C. 2012. Adaptive radiation in
Australian journals in the Arbustocene ERA: an empty niche for
JANCO? Pp XX - XX in Science under Siege, edited by P. Banks,
D. Lunney and C. Dickman. Royal Zoological Society of NSW,
Mosman, NSW, Australia.
Calver, M. C. and Bryant, K. A. 2008. Pacific Conservation
Biology: An authorship and citation analysis. Pacific Conservation
Biology 14: 285-303.
Calver, M. C., O’Brien, P. A. and Lilith, M. In press.
Australasian Plant Pathology: an analysis of authorship and
citations in the 21st century. Australasian Plant Pathology.
Calver, M., Lymbery, A., McComb, J. and Bamford, M. (eds),
2009. Environmental Biology. Cambridge University Press, Port
Melbourne, Victoria, Australia.
Calver, M., Wardell-Johnson, G., Bradley , S. and Taplin, R.
2010. What makes a journal international? A case study using
conservation biology journals. Scientometrics 85: 387–400.
Falagas, M.E. and Alexiou, V.G. 2008. The top-ten in journal
impact factor manipulation. Archivum Immunologiae et Therapiae
Experimentalis 56: 223-226.
139
Journal Impact Factors and Australian fauna
Science under Siege
Garfield, E. 2006. The history and meaning of the Journal
Impact Factor. Journal of the American Medical Association 295:
219-221.
Krefft, G. 1866. On the vertebrate animals of the lower
Murray and Darling, their habits, economy and geographical
distribution. Transactions of the Philosophical Society of New South
Wales 1862-1865: 1-133.
Krell, F.-T. 2000. Impact factors aren’t relevant to taxonomy.
Nature 405: 507-508.
Krell, F.-T. 2002. Why impact factors don’t work for taxonomy.
Nature 415: 917.
Kutt, A.S., Kemp, J.E., McDonald, K.R., Williams, Y.,
Williams, S.E., Hines, H.B., Hero, J-M. and Torr, G. 2005.
Vertebrate fauna survey of White Mountains National Park
in the Desert Uplands Bioregion, central-north Queensland.
Australian Zoologist 33: 17-38.
Lindenmayer, D. B., and Likens. G.E. 2011. Losing the
culture of ecology. Bulletin of the Ecological Society of America
92: 245–246.
Llewellyn, L. 2006. Breeding and development of the endangered
Purple-spotted Gudgeon Mogurnda adspersa population from the
Murray Darling. Australian Zoologist 33: 480-510.
Noss, R. 1996. The naturalists are dying off. Conservation
Biology 10: 1–3.
Postma, E. 2007. Inflated Impact Factors? The true impact of
evolutionary papers in non-evolutionary journals. PLoS ONE
2: 1-5.
Recher H., Lunney, D. and Dunn, I. 1979 (2nd edn 1986). A
Natural Legacy. Ecology in Australia. Pergamon Press, Rushcutters
Bay, Sydney, Australia.
Sala, O. E., Chapin, F. S., Armesto, J. J., Berlow, E.,
Bloomfield, J., Dirzo, R., Huber-Sanwald, E., Huenneke, L.
F., Jackson, R. B., Kinzig, A., Leemans, R., Lodge, D. M.,
Mooney, H. A., Oesterheld, M., Poff, N. L., Sykes, M. T.,
Walker, B. H., Walker, M., and Wall D. H. 2000. Global
biodiversity scenarios for the year 2100. Science 287: 1770-1774.
Uniyal, S. K. 2011. Prioritizing taxonomy. Science 332: 536–
537.
Werner, Y. H. 2009. The aspiration to be good is bad: the
‘Impact Factor’ hurts both science and society. International
Journal of Science in Society 1: 99-105.
Whittaker, R. J. 2010. Meta-analyses and mega-mistakes:
calling time on meta-analysis of the species richness–productivity
relationship. Ecology 91: 2522–2533.
... central Australia, New Guinea, south-east Asia, central Africa; Fig. 1) are located in remote, inaccessible locations, and/ or in regions well away from areas where there are high concentrations of herpetologists (Greer, 2007;Tingley et al., 2019;Chapple et al., 2019), and limited funding for studies of basic ecology and biology (e.g. Crowther et al., 2012;Lindenmayer et al., 2012). This has limited our knowledge of skink species biology and threatening processes, which has in turn led to skinks (and squamates more broadly) having a high proportion of Data Deficient and non-assessed species (Böhm et al., 2013;Tingley et al., 2016;Meiri and Chapple, 2016;Bland and Böhm, 2016). ...
Article
Our knowledge of the conservation status of reptiles, the most diverse class of terrestrial vertebrates, has improved dramatically over the past decade, but still lags behind that of the other tetrapod groups. Here, we conduct the first comprehensive evaluation (~92% of the world's ~1714 described species) of the conservation 1 Joint senior authors. D.G. Chapple et al. Biological Conservation 257 (2021) 109101 3 Lizard Protected areas Reptile Skink Taxonomic bias status of skinks (Scincidae), a speciose reptile family with a worldwide distribution. Using International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN) criteria, we report that ~20% of species are threatened with extinction, and nine species are Extinct or Extinct in the Wild. The highest levels of threat are evident in Madagascar and the Neotropics, and in the subfamilies Mabuyinae, Eugongylinae and Scincinae. The vast majority of threatened skink species were listed based primarily on their small geographic ranges (Criterion B, 83%; Criterion D2, 13%). Although the population trend of 42% of species was stable, 14% have declining populations. The key threats to skinks are habitat loss due to agriculture, invasive species, and biological resource use (e.g., hunting, timber harvesting). The distributions of 61% of species do not overlap with protected areas. Despite our improved knowledge of the conservation status of the world's skinks, 8% of species remain to be assessed, and 14% are listed as Data Deficient. The conservation status of almost a quarter of the world's skink species thus remains unknown. We use our updated knowledge of the conservation status of the group to develop and outline the priorities for the conservation assessment and management of the world's skink species.
Chapter
Full-text available
Article
Full-text available
To better inform editorial planning, we analysed Australasian Plant Pathology’s (APP) authorship and readership 2001–2010. Authors came from Australia (57%), the Americas (Canada, USA and South American countries) (11%), New Zealand (7%), other Pacific and Asian countries (9%), Europe (5%) and other nations (11%), with the Australian contribution declining over the decade. Most authors were government employees (55% overall), but this category declined from 58% in 2001 to 46% in 2010. Academic authors (40% in 2001 to 49% in 2010) and other authors (2% in 2001 to 5% in 2010) increased. Using Scopus (December 2010), ≥73% of papers between 2001 and 2007 were cited ≥1, declining to 19% in 2010. Authors citing APP came from 114 countries (ISI Web of Science’s cited reference feature, December 2010). Compared to 23 plant pathology journals over 2002–2007, APP ranked 15th over 10 journal usage statistics. In cluster analysis APP was closest to Journal of Phytopathology, Forest Pathology and Canadian Journal of Plant Pathology. Given its increasing proportion of authors from outside Australia, the many countries citing it and its usage relative to similar journals, APP makes a broad regional contribution with global recognition. The editorial challenge is to identify and solicit the ‘new and significant work’ that the journal web site claims to prioritise for publication.
Article
Environmental Biology offers a fresh, problem-solving treatment of the topic for students requiring a biology background before further study in environmental science, sustainable development or environmental engineering. it begins with an environmental theme that carries through the text, using three major case studies with a regional focus. Key foundational knowledge is introduced and developed as the text progresses, with students encouraged to integrate their accumulated learning to reach solutions. A comprehensive coverage of scientific method, including field experimentation and field techniques, is an important part of the approach. While emphasising the environmental theme, the book introduces all facets of the biology discipline, including cell biology, evolution, ecology, conservation and restoration. There are over 500 line drawings, diagrams and photos throughout, including full-colour sections, and each chapter includes summaries and comprehensive questions. The accompanying online Instructors' Resource includes multiple-choice questions, 'Test your knowledge' solutions and video footage. © Michael Calver, Alan Lymbery, Jennifer McComb & Michael Bamford 2009.
Article
The Purple-spotted Gudgeon, Mogumda odspersa, is widespread occurring in coastal drainages in northern NSW and Queensland, and an endangered western population in the Murray Darling System. This paper reports a study at the Inland Fisheries Research Station, Narrandera in the 1960s using fish from the western population. M. adspersa bred in ponds and aquaria at temperatures between 20.0 and 29.9°C (34.0°C at water surface), and in ponds between December and February. An abundant food supply was essential but rising water levels were not required. The elaborate spawning behaviour and embryological development of the eggs, larvae and juvenile fish were recorded. The eggs were demersal, transparent, telolecithal and elliptical, and they possessed an adhesive disc at one of the pointed ends, although the chorion was essentially non-adhesive. They measured 107 - 1.33mm by 2.03-3.78mm, and were attached in a cluster to solid objects. Their oil globules were small and numerous. The eggs hatched 3 - 8d after fertilisation, at temperatures of 20.2 - 29.0°C. The length of larvae at hatching varied from 3.44-4.15mm. The prolarval stage terminated approximately 6 1/2d after hatching at temperatures between 19.0 and 29.0°C, when the larvae measured 5.30-5.85mm in length. Opercular stripes appeared on juveniles between 12 and 20mm in length, and males and females were mature at 44.7 and 49.0mm respectively. Adult males often had a pronounced bulge on top of the head. The longest fish from the western population was 99.0mm. Fecundity varied from 284 to 1300 eggs. The gonosomatic index of females and males ranged from 1.26 - 11.74 and 0.18 - 2.16 respectively. The mean length of fish reared in an aquarium measured 33.0 and 50.0mm at one and two years old, respectively. Eggs, larvae, and breeding biology are compared with other Murray Darling species. The breeding biology of Mogumda species in Australia is discussed which emphasises the taxonomic confusion.