Thursday, July 21, 2005

Discoverers of the Ivory-Bill Stick to Their Guns But Will the Challenge to Their Sighting Hurt Endangered Species Protection

The question of whether reports of the ivory-billed woorpecker’s extinction were greatly exaggerated gets an airing in today’s Times, where Andy Revkin has a piece that picks up where Bootstrap Analysis started yesterday.

The authors of the paper – which will be published in a peer-reviewed, online journal – challenging the ivory-billed woodpecker report maintain that they’re not saying ivory-bills aren’t still around, only that the evidence submitted by the ornithologists who reported in April that they saw one in Arkansas isn’t conclusive. The team that saw the ivory-bill isn’t backing down.

“We can counter everything,” he said. “We stick to our guns.”

More interesting is what Bootstrap Analysis has to say. He makes an educated guess that the online journal is PloS Biology, a journal that’s available to everyone, not just subscribers. The original sighting was reported in Science, which is highly-regarded and available only to subscribers. Why is that important?

[The] paper could have serious ramifications on endangered species conservation. Publishing open-access may provide an easy source of ammunition (without balance) for those willing to use normal scientific dissent as proof we need to raise the bar to unreasonably high standards prior to species protection. Uh-oh.

Here’s Bootstrap Analysis. It has all the links an interested reader could want.


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