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Conservation research capacity in sub-Saharan Africa is improving, although only in a few countries

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Abstract

We tested if conservation research capacity has increased in sub-Saharan African countries over the last 30 years in response to increased development. A bibliometric analysis was carried out to identify the number of conservation research papers published by local (within country) authors from 1987-2017 in forty-one sub-Saharan African countries, to provide an index of local conservation research capacity. In addition, country-specific development factors influencing these totals were identified using general linear modelling. There were positive relationships between our index of local conservation research capacity and population size, GDP, literacy rate, international tourism receipts and population growth rate, and negative relationships between urban population and agricultural land cover, explaining 77% of variation. 38% of countries contributed to fewer than thirty conservation research publications (out of 12,701) in thirty years. Analysis of trends in primary authorship in a random sub-sample of 2,374 papers showed that primary authorship for sub-Saharan African countries has increased significantly over time but is now increasing at a lower rate than primary authorship for countries outside of the country associated with the search term – usually a European or American country. Overall, 46% of papers had local primary authors, but 67% of these were South African. The results show that conservation research capacity in sub-Saharan Africa overall is improving but only significantly in a few countries, and still dominated by non-local scientists, probably caused by a lack of socioeconomic development in many countries.
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Original languageEnglish
JournalOryx
Publication statusAccepted/In press - 9 Jan 2020

    Research areas

  • Conservation biology, Capacity building, Development, Research trends

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