Allocation of effort and imbalances in biodiversity research

Iris E. Hendriks*, Carlos M. Duarte

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

34 Scopus citations


Ecosystem transformation and depletion of natural resources by human activity with associated increase in species extinctions renders research to understand the consequences of these transformations and design strategies to conserve biological diversity a fundamental priority. Since the introduction of the term biodiversity, accumulated research in this field has expanded exponentially. An analysis of existing literature was conducted to examine patterns in the resulting research effort. The analysis, conducted using the Web of Science (WoS), identified 13336 published articles between 1987 and 2005 concerning biodiversity research. Research efforts are increasing, with 72% of the research effort addressing terrestrial ecosystems. Most of the research is experimental in nature, with few models developed, and focuses on species. Despite constant technical improvements, research on genetic diversity still represents a minor component. Research on different systems is disseminated through different publication outlets, fragmenting the community and derived knowledge. Reported results, here measured as strength of the correlation between biodiversity and ecosystem function, do not differ across ecosystems but are stronger when the study focused on functional groups instead of species level. Collaborative efforts remain limited, as the average number of authors per paper is not increasing with time, unlike patterns in other disciplines. The international distribution of research efforts is highly skewed, with the USA and the EU conducting nearly 90% of the research.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)15-20
Number of pages6
JournalJournal of Experimental Marine Biology and Ecology
Issue number1
StatePublished - May 28 2008
Externally publishedYes


  • Biodiversity
  • Citations
  • Marine vs. terrestrial research efforts
  • Publications
  • Research allocation

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Ecology, Evolution, Behavior and Systematics
  • Aquatic Science


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