MR Yarwood, MA Weston, MRE Symonds (2019) Biological determinants of research effort on Australian birds: a comparative analysis. Emu 119: 38-44
What’s it about?
We examined what biological predictors out of body mass, range size, reporting rate (a measure of abundance) and propensity to urban living determined research effort into Australian birds (measures as number of articles published on each species in the Australian ornithological journal, Emu since its inception). All 4 of these variables predicted research effort – with big, well-distributed, abundant and urban-dwelling species being more likely to be studied.
What’s the story behind it?
Maree Yarwood was an honours student of my colleague Mike Weston who, due to a fieldwork related injury had undertaken a literature-based honours project examining patterns of publication on Australian birds. So the data for this paper came from that original honours thesis/meta-analysis. The comparative analysis using these data to examine the biological determinants of research effort was subsequently carried out by me while I was away on sabbatical in the UK in 2016 – it being the first time that I had used a Bayesian phylogenetic generalised mixed model approach (something I had taught myself while on sabbatical – ah the wonderful advantage of having time to oneself). Interestingly, Emu had earlier showed some disinclination to publishing such a paper (an earlier bibliographic analysis of trends in publications on birds that Mike and Maree ended up publishing in Scientometrics), but because this paper was more explicitly biological they were considerably more amenable.