Representation of herpetofauna in wildlife research journals


  • Rebecca A. Christoffel,

    Corresponding author
    1. Assistant Professor, Department of Natural Resource Ecology and Management, Iowa State University, 339 Science II, Ames, IA 50011, USA
    • Assistant Professor, Department of Natural Resource Ecology and Management, Iowa State University, 339 Science II, Ames, IA 50011, USA.
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  • Christopher A. Lepczyk

    1. Department of Natural Resources and Environmental Management, University of Hawai‘i at Mānoa, Honolulu, HI 96822, USA
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  • Associate Editor: John Daigle.


Two groups of wildlife species that are critical for the maintenance of biological diversity in a variety of habitats and who fill a number of functional roles in these habitats are reptiles (Gibbons et al. 2000, Ernst and Lovich 2009) and amphibians (Semlitsch 2003). Globally, reptiles and amphibians (i.e., herpetofauna) make up 46% of species richness of terrestrial vertebrates, but the prevalence of herpetofauna investigations in wildlife research and management journals has not been explored. Our objective was to review representation of herpetofauna in 6 wildlife research journals from 1980 to 2009 to examine whether their representation parallels their contribution to global terrestrial vertebrate species richness, whether their representation has changed over time and how, and whether subsets of herpetofauna garner disproportionate coverage relative to one another. We ran a keyword search in Web of Science database (formerly ISI Web of Science) within the Web of Knowledge search engine published by Thomson Reuters (2010) on 6 wildlife research journals (European Journal of Wildlife Research [formerly Zeitschrift für Jagdwissenschaft], Journal of Wildlife Management, South African Journal of Wildlife Research, Wildlife Biology, Wildlife Research, and Wildlife Society Bulletin) from 1980 to 2009. We searched for 17 terms relevant to herpetofauna (e.g., toad, tortoise). Our search yielded 315 articles that focused on herpetofauna. Over the 30-year period, we found the number of articles and pages and percentage of journal space devoted to herpetofauna increased. However, at best, <6% of journal space was devoted to herpetofauna, indicating that these species are greatly under-represented in wildlife literature given their contributions to species richness and diversity and ecosystem function. Although absolute number of articles and pages has increased, little progress has been made in terms of relative representation of herpetofauna as compared to birds and mammals. Although percentage of pages in wildlife journals dedicated to herpetofauna has increased in the past 30 years, they must garner greater representation to enable us to adequately manage for biological diversity and ecosystem function and integrity. © 2011 The Wildlife Society.