Student Work

  • Data Visualization (MS)

    Jaime Tanner

    Species Bias in Scientific Research

    The number of world species is declining at an alarmingly high rate. Researchers in ecology and conservation biology are working to better understand world species and the factors contributing to their loss. By generating this knowledge, the scientific community hopes to shape conservation policy and natural resource management. However, it has been shown that certain species and taxa receive far more attention than others that may be more difficult to access or less directly beneficial to humans. As a result, species which may be more critical to the overall health of an ecosystem are at risk. With so many of our conservation practices dependent on the knowledge produced by the scientific community, it is critical to address this taxonomic bias in research. 

    This project offers one solution to the challenge of communicating bias in organismal research. Using the publications from one major scientific journal, the visualization allows the reader to explore animal species organized taxonomically and by the number of publications where the species is mentioned. Users can explore publications at a species level or use the sorting tools to observe trends. 

    This visual investigation aims to provoke the reader into questioning our prevailing practices for understanding nature. Using research publications as a lens through which we can explore scientific methods of inquiry, this project visualizes not only the species which receive the most attention from humans but also those which may be the least understood.