What is it about?

We examine how interdisciplinarity - how different disciplines interact with one another - has changed over time in biodiversity, a field replete with complex, societally-relevant challenges. Despite the potential benefits of an interdisciplinary approach to such challenges, we did not find evidence that research in biodiversity science has become more interdisciplinary over more than twenty years. Our results suggest that interdisciplinarity is relatively rare, possibly due to extrinsic issues, such as the lack of funding for interdisciplinary research.

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Why is it important?

Our study is important because we show that interdisciplinarity is not an organic process that emerges naturally among researchers in biodiversity science. This means that greater efforts are needed to encourage and fund interdisciplinary research in order to meet the myriad challenges we face - principally the biodiversity crisis.

Perspectives

In the process of writing and publishing this article, we learned the difficulty of publishing results that don't match a particular or expected narrative. We want people to bridge disciplinary gaps and solve complex problems and we've wanted this for +15 years (see Nat'l Acad. of Sciences report 2004). But we found that these efforts in biodiversity science are unusual.

Dr Dylan J Craven
University of Göttingen

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This page is a summary of: Evolution of interdisciplinarity in biodiversity science, Ecology and Evolution, June 2019, Wiley, DOI: 10.1002/ece3.5244.
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