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24 juillet 2018

A decision tree for assessing the risks and benefits of publishing biodiversity data [Nature Ecology & Evolution]

nadequate information on the geographical distribution of biodiversity hampers decision-making for conservation. Major efforts are underway to fill knowledge gaps, but there are increasing concerns that publishing the locations of species is dangerous, particularly for species at risk of exploitation. While we recognize that well-informed control of location data for highly sensitive taxa is necessary to avoid risks, such as poaching or habitat disturbance by recreational visitors, we argue that ignoring the benefits of sharing biodiversity data could unnecessarily obstruct conservation efforts for species and locations with low risks of exploitation. We provide a decision tree protocol for scientists that systematically considers both the risks of exploitation and potential benefits of increased conservation activities. Our protocol helps scientists assess the impacts of publishing biodiversity data and aims to enhance conservation opportunities, promote community engagement and reduce duplication of survey efforts.

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23 juillet 2018

Prioritizing phylogenetic diversity captures functional diversity unreliably [Nature communications)

In the face of the biodiversity crisis, it is argued that we should prioritize species in order to capture high functional diversity (FD). Because species traits often reflect shared evolutionary history, many researchers have assumed that maximizing phylogenetic diversity (PD) should indirectly capture FD, a hypothesis that we name the “phylogenetic gambit”. Here, we empirically test this gambit using data on ecologically relevant traits from >15,000 vertebrate species. Specifically, we estimate a measure of surrogacy of PD for FD. We find that maximizing PD results in an average gain of 18% of FD relative to random choice. However, this average gain obscures the fact that in over one-third of the comparisons, maximum PD sets contain less FD than randomly chosen sets of species. These results suggest that, while maximizing PD protection can help to protect FD, it represents a risky conservation strategy.

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20 juillet 2018

Human influence on the seasonal cycle of tropospheric temperature [Science]

We provide scientific evidence that a human-caused signal in the seasonal cycle of tropospheric temperature has emerged from the background noise of natural variability. Satellite data and the anthropogenic “fingerprint” predicted by climate models show common large-scale changes in geographical patterns of seasonal cycle amplitude. These common features include increases in amplitude at mid-latitudes in both hemispheres, amplitude decreases at high latitudes in the Southern Hemisphere, and small changes in the tropics. Simple physical mechanisms explain these features. The model fingerprint of seasonal cycle changes is identifiable with high statistical confidence in five out of six satellite temperature datasets. Our results suggest that attribution studies with the changing seasonal cycle provide powerful evidence for a significant human effect on Earth’s climate.

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20 juillet 2018

Questionable research practices in ecology and evolution [PLOS One]

Subject Areas : evolutionary biology, evolutionary ecology, psychology, statistical data, community ecology, behavioral ecology, ecology and environmental sciences, publication ethics

We surveyed 807 researchers (494 ecologists and 313 evolutionary biologists) about their use of Questionable Research Practices (QRPs), including cherry picking statistically significant results, p hacking, and hypothesising after the results are known (HARKing). We also asked them to estimate the proportion of their colleagues that use each of these QRPs. Several of the QRPs were prevalent within the ecology and evolution research community. Across the two groups, we found 64% of surveyed researchers reported they had at least once failed to report results because they were not statistically significant (cherry picking) ; 42% had collected more data after inspecting whether results were statistically significant (a form of p hacking) and 51% had reported an unexpected finding as though it had been hypothesised from the start (HARKing).(...)

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20 juillet 2018

A spatial overview of the global importance of Indigenous lands for conservation [Nature Sustainability]

Understanding the scale, location and nature conservation values of the lands over which Indigenous Peoples exercise traditional rights is central to implementation of several global conservation and climate agreements. However, spatial information on Indigenous lands has never been aggregated globally. Here, using publicly available geospatial resources, we show that Indigenous Peoples manage or have tenure rights over at least 38 million km2 in 87 countries or politically distinct areas on all inhabited continents. This represents over a quarter of the world’s land surface, and intersects about 40% of all terrestrial protected areas and ecologically intact landscapes (for example, boreal and tropical primary forests, savannas and marshes).(...)

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