Species misidentification in ecological studies : incidence and importance from the ecologists’ point of view

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dc.contributor Helsingin yliopisto, Bio- ja ympäristötieteellinen tiedekunta fi
dc.contributor University of Helsinki, Faculty of Biological and Environmental Sciences en
dc.contributor Helsingfors universitet, Bio- och miljövetenskapliga fakulteten sv
dc.contributor.author Wang, Shengyu
dc.date.issued 2021
dc.identifier.uri URN:NBN:fi:hulib-202106303271
dc.identifier.uri http://hdl.handle.net/10138/332004
dc.description.abstract Natural scientists study a wide variety of species, but whether they have identified all studied samples correctly to species is rarely evaluated. Species misidentification in empirical research can cause significant losses of money, information, and time, and contribute to false results. Thus, I study the abundance of species misidentification and ecologists’ perceptions of such mistakes through a web survey targeting researchers from scientific institutes around the globe (including universities, research societies and museums) who completed their doctoral degree in any ecology-related field of science. I received 117 responses with either work or educational background from 30 countries. I found that species misidentification widely existed in respondents’ research: almost 70% of the respondents noticed species misidentification in their own research, while the estimated proportion of existing studies with species misidentification was 34% (95% CI: 28% - 40%). Although misidentification was mainly found during specimen collection, specimen handling and data analysis, misidentifications in reporting stages (writing, revision and after publishing) could persist until publication. Moreover, according to respondents, reviewers seldom comment about species identification methods or their accuracy, which may affect respondents’ (both leading and not leading a research team) low reporting frequency about the possibility of misidentification. Expert checking, training students, and DNA barcoding are the most prevalent approaches to ensure identification accuracy among respondents. My results imply that species misidentification might be widespread in existing ecological research. Although the problem of species misidentification is widely recognized, such an issue seldom be appropriately handled by respondents. To increase the accuracy of species identification and maintain academic integrity, I suggest that researchers need to focus more on the study species (e.g., sampling process, identification method, and accuracy) when writing and reviewing papers. Furthermore, I appeal for guidelines about reporting species identification methods and their accuracy in papers, as well as research on education about identification skills in universities, as these two topics may constrain the precision of species identification. en
dc.language.iso eng
dc.publisher Helsingin yliopisto fi
dc.publisher University of Helsinki en
dc.publisher Helsingfors universitet sv
dc.subject ecology en
dc.subject identification errors en
dc.subject life science en
dc.subject methodology en
dc.subject questionnaire survey en
dc.subject science studies en
dc.subject species misclassification en
dc.title Species misidentification in ecological studies : incidence and importance from the ecologists’ point of view en
dc.type.ontasot pro gradu -tutkielmat fi
dc.type.ontasot master's thesis en
dc.type.ontasot pro gradu-avhandlingar sv
dct.identifier.urn URN:NBN:fi:hulib-202106303271
dc.subject.specialization ei opintosuuntaa fi
dc.subject.specialization no specialization en
dc.subject.specialization ingen studieinriktning sv
dc.subject.degreeprogram Ekologian ja evoluutiobiologian maisteriohjelma fi
dc.subject.degreeprogram Master's Programme in Ecology and Evolutionary Biology en
dc.subject.degreeprogram Magisterprogrammet i ekologi och evolutionsbiologi sv

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