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      Taxonomic bias in biodiversity data and societal preferences

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          Abstract

          Studying and protecting each and every living species on Earth is a major challenge of the 21 st century. Yet, most species remain unknown or unstudied, while others attract most of the public, scientific and government attention. Although known to be detrimental, this taxonomic bias continues to be pervasive in the scientific literature, but is still poorly studied and understood. Here, we used 626 million occurrences from the Global Biodiversity Information Facility (GBIF), the biggest biodiversity data portal, to characterize the taxonomic bias in biodiversity data. We also investigated how societal preferences and taxonomic research relate to biodiversity data gathering. For each species belonging to 24 taxonomic classes, we used the number of publications from Web of Science and the number of web pages from Bing searches to approximate research activity and societal preferences. Our results show that societal preferences, rather than research activity, strongly correlate with taxonomic bias, which lead us to assert that scientists should advertise less charismatic species and develop societal initiatives (e.g. citizen science) that specifically target neglected organisms. Ensuring that biodiversity is representatively sampled while this is still possible is an urgent prerequisite for achieving efficient conservation plans and a global understanding of our surrounding environment.

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          Most cited references 49

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          Generalized linear models (Second edition).

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            Biodiversity Loss Threatens Human Well-Being

            Biodiversity lies at the core of ecosystem processes fueling our planet's vital life-support systems; its degradation--by us--is threatening our own well-being and will disproportionately impact the poor.
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              How many species are there on Earth?

               Bernie P. May (1988)
              This article surveys current answers to the factual question posed in the title and reviews the kinds of information that are needed to make these answers more precise. Various factors affecting diversity are also reviewed. These include the structure of food webs, the relative abundance of species, the number of species and of individuals in different categories of body size, along with other determinants of the commonness and rarity of organisms.
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                Author and article information

                Contributors
                julien.troudet@mnhn.fr
                Journal
                Sci Rep
                Sci Rep
                Scientific Reports
                Nature Publishing Group UK (London )
                2045-2322
                22 August 2017
                22 August 2017
                2017
                : 7
                Affiliations
                [1 ]ISNI 0000 0001 2308 1657, GRID grid.462844.8, , Institut de Systématique, Evolution, Biodiversité, ISYEB – UMR 7205 MNHN CNRS UPMC EPHE, Sorbonne Universités, ; 45 rue Buffon, 75005 Paris, France
                [2 ]Outils et Méthodes de la Systématique Intégrative, OMSI – UMS 2700 CNRS MNHN, Muséum national d’Histoire naturelle, CP26, 57 rue Cuvier, 75231 Paris Cedex 05, France
                Article
                9084
                10.1038/s41598-017-09084-6
                5567328
                28831097
                © The Author(s) 2017

                Open Access This article is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License, which permits use, sharing, adaptation, distribution and reproduction in any medium or format, as long as you give appropriate credit to the original author(s) and the source, provide a link to the Creative Commons license, and indicate if changes were made. The images or other third party material in this article are included in the article’s Creative Commons license, unless indicated otherwise in a credit line to the material. If material is not included in the article’s Creative Commons license and your intended use is not permitted by statutory regulation or exceeds the permitted use, you will need to obtain permission directly from the copyright holder. To view a copy of this license, visit http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/4.0/.

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