Risks associated with failed interdisciplinary approaches in conservation research


Since the origin of conservation biology, it is recognized the need of integrating knowledge from different disciplines (Groome et al. 2006), because conservation problems are usually set in complex contexts that are constituted by both social and ecological systems (Cumming 2011). In other words, multitude aspects like socio-economic circumstances, cultural reasons, ecological factors and environmental factors, among others, drive conservation issues. Over recent times, this interdisciplinary approach has become fashionable (Ledford 2015). In this sense, funders encourage interdisciplinary projects. For example, one of the pillars of the EU framework for research and innovation Horizon 2020 states that ‘‘a challenge-based approach will bring together resources and knowledge across different fields, technologies and disciplines, including social sciences and the humanities’’. In the same line, scientific journals increasingly demand multidisciplinary studies. In agreement with pioneering conservation biologists (Groome et al. 2006), I applaud this encouragement, as, certainly, many conservation problems cannot be adequately addressed from just one discipline, as some excellent multidisciplinary papers demonstrate (e.g. Kühl et al. 2009; Clavero et al. 2016). Nevertheless, I realize that pitfalls can occur when researchers, mostly trained in one discipline, try to conduct interdisciplinary research on their own. Indeed, there are frequent cases of failed interdisciplinary investigations published in prestigious scientific ecological journals. When conservation biologists investigate what they usually term as ‘‘human–wildlife conflict’’ they assume, on most occasions, that humans and wildlife are conscious antagonists. For example, Inskip and Zimmermann (2009) stated in their highly cited review that carnivores are particularly predisposed to conflict with humans, stressing that conflict

DOI: 10.1007/s10531-016-1233-4

Cite this paper

@article{DelibesMateos2016RisksAW, title={Risks associated with failed interdisciplinary approaches in conservation research}, author={Miguel Delibes-Mateos}, journal={Biodiversity and Conservation}, year={2016}, volume={26}, pages={247-250} }