New research from Curtin University has found a bias among scientists towards colorful and visually striking plants, meaning they are more likely to be chosen for scientific study and benefit from subsequent conservation efforts, regardless of their ecological importance.
Co-author John Curtin Distinguished Professor Kingsley Dixon of Curtin’s School of Molecular and Life Sciences was part of an international team looking for evidence of aesthetic bias among scientists by analyzing 113 plant species found in the biodiversity hotspot world in the South-West Alps and mentioned in 280 research papers published between 1975 and 2020.
Professor Dixon said the study tested whether there was a relationship between research on plant species and characteristics such as species color, shape and prominence.
“We found that the accessible and visible flowers were some of the most studied, while color also played an important role,” said Professor Dixon.
“Blue plants, which are relatively rare, received the most research attention, and white, red and pink flowers were more likely to appear in scientific literature than green and brown plants.
“Stem height, which determines a plant’s ability to stand out among others, was also a contributing factor, while a plant’s rarity did not significantly influence the attention of the plant. the research.”
Professor Dixon said that plant characteristics such as color and prominence are not indicators of their ecological importance, and so “attractiveness bias” could divert important research attention away from more deserving species.
“This bias can have the negative consequence of diverting conservation efforts from plants which, while less visually pleasing, are more important to the health of all ecosystems,” said Professor Dixon.
“Our study shows the need to take aesthetic biases more explicitly into account in the experimental design and the choice of the species studied, to ensure the best conservation and ecological results.”
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Material provided by Curtin University. Original written by Lucien Wilkinson. Note: Content can be changed for style and length.