Thursday, August 7, 2014

Why we know so little...

A recent article put out by the Zoological Society of London analyzed how much is known about carnivores.  Specifically, they were looking at what biases exist in how research effort is partitioned among species.  To little surprise, large, charismatic species like the grey wolf featured near the top, with a number of key themes emerging:

  • Positive effect of large body size
  • Positive effect of large geographic range
  • Negative effect of omnivory (varied diet of carrion and other plant and insect matter)
  • Positive effect of high risk of extinction
We see our favorite little omnivore, the eastern spotted skunk, check most of the boxes for being data deficient.  Most telling is that due to lack of knowledge of its current range and where it is still extant, we lack even basic knowledge of whether research and conservation is needed in many areas throughout its range.  

A user-friendly summary graphic provided in the ZSL Wild About magazine helps explain these patterns further: