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Examination of the ‘founder effect’ in biodiversity research: patterns and imbalances in the published literature

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We reviewed 2524 articles published from 1987 to 1995 in five international journals, Conservation Biology, Biological Conservation, Biodiversity and Conservation, Ecological Applications, and the Journal of Applied Ecology, to assess patterns and imbalances in biodiversity research in the following subject areas: locations where research was conducted, types of organisms studied, types of ecosystems studied, types of methodologies used, and types of stresses investigated. Biodiversity research was found to be narrowly focused with little deviation from its initial course set of being a discipline concerned largely with the implications of forest habitat loss on charismatic terrestrial megafauna; i.e. the ‘founder effect’ is very much in evidence. The ‘sleeping dragon’ of ignored marine biodiversity is really symptomatic of a wider problem, and can perhaps be referred to as a ‘hibernating hydra’ of many imbalances due to, for example, under-representations of research from developing nations, or on amphibians and invertebrates, alpine and arctic systems, sociological components and chemical stresses etc. It is time to take steps to actively awaken the creature so that conservation biology/applied ecology can become more pluralistic in scope.
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Keywords: Biodiversity research; literature review; ‘founder effect’

Document Type: Research Article

Affiliations: Harvard University, Graduate School of Design, 48 Quincy St, Cambridge, MA 02138 USA and Department of Geography, University of Toronto, 100 St. George St, Toronto, Ontario, Canada M5S 3G3

Publication date: 1998-03-01

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