New journal: Frontiers in Conservation Science

29 09 2020

Several months ago, Daniel Blumstein of UCLA approached me with an offer — fancy leading a Special Section in a new Frontiers journal dedicated to conservation science?

I admit that my gut reaction was a visceral ‘no’, both in terms of the extra time it would require, as well as my autonomous reflex of ‘not another journal, please‘.

I had, for example, spent a good deal of blood, sweat, and tears helping to launch Conservation Letters when I acted as Senior Editor for the first 3.5 years of its existence (I can’t believe that it has been nearly a decade since I left the journal). While certainly an educational and reputational boost, I can’t claim that the experience was always a pleasant one — as has been said many times before, the fastest way to make enemies is to become an editor.

But then Dan explained what he had in mind for Frontiers in Conservation Science, and the more I spoke with him, the more I started to think that it wasn’t a bad idea after all for me to join.

I had heard vague rumours around the traps that some people thought that Frontiers journals might represent some of the uglier sides of scientific publishing, but it turns out that that’s bullshit. Yes, they are open-access journals. Yes, they do charge. But practically all journals now charge, and compared to the whopping profits made by the likes of Elsevier, Springer-Nature, Wiley, etc., the Frontiers charges are actually quite reasonable, and include many discount structures (sure, I think the entire system is broken, but some elements are certainly more putrid than others).

More importantly, what does this journal aim to do that is not done by other conservation journals? Well, the first is to address the real problem of a lack of racial, geographical, gender, and expertise diversity among the editorial membership typical of most journals in the field. While soliciting both Speciality and Associate Editors in the lead up to the launch last week, everyone has attempted to be as broad as possible in their invitations. Agreed — we’re not there yet, but I think it has been a good start.

The second element that I think distinguishes this journal from others is that it specifically attempts to bridge the discipline gap that has plagued conservation science for so long. And by ‘science’ here, I’m not restricting the definition to anything Popperian in nature; rather, I’m including the social sciences as well. Pretty much everyone in the field acknowledges that conservation is more about people (psychology, economics, behaviour, politics, etc.) than biology per se, but most journals are still retrofitting this realisation to their modus operandi. Instead, Frontiers in Conservation Science is being set up with this philosophy at the forefront of its general mandate.

The journal is so far split into five Speciality Sections headed by one Speciality Chief Editor and a host of Associate Editors:

  • Animal Conservation: species protection, behaviour, physiology, as well as captive breeding, translocations, applied disease ecology, distribution and abundance, interactions, biological invasions;
  • Human-Wildlife Dynamics: human-wildlife conflict/coexistence, conservation conflicts, wildlife management, urban/sub-urban interactions, illegal wildlife trade, sustainable use of wildlife, wildlife tourism/ecotourism, community-based conservation, conservation, poverty and livelihoods, protected areas and people;
  • Conservation Genomics: genetics and genomics applied to animal and plant conservation;
  • Plant Conservation: plant interactions, plant translocations, plant physiology, applied disease ecology to address conservation issues, biological invasions, distribution and abundance; and
  • Global Biodiversity Threats: impacts on biodiversity and conservation of: climate change, pollution, land-use change, ocean exploitation, water-use, food-systems, urbanisation, and energy requirements.

Of course, there will be other sections developed as the journal matures, as well as many additional editors (if you fancy a go at being one, please contact the Field Chief Editor, or any of the Speciality Section editors).

You can certainly read more about the general approach in Dan’s lead editorial Grand Challenges in Conservation Science, and watch out for the various Speciality Section editorials coming out over the next few weeks (one has been published so far on Animal Conservation, and the one I wrote on Global Biodiversity Threats should be published soon).

I also want to mention the various Research Topics that have begun to solicit submissions. These are essentially like ‘special issues’ on a particular theme that one or several of the Associate Editors (well, any editor can propose one, really) has planned. They tend to be ‘hot’ topics that invite some of the leading minds in the field to contribute their latest work. While we have started with four Research Topics, there will of course be many more appearing over the next few months.

Yes, it’s challenging getting a new journal up and running, and even longer for it to develop a good reputation. But this journal has some real potential to be a hot commodity in the applied conservation sciences that takes a broader perspective on all things related to conservation.

I hope you consider submitting your work here.

CJA Bradshaw



One response

8 10 2020
Grand Challenges in Global Biodiversity Threats |

[…] Last week I mentioned that the new journal Frontiers in Conservation Science is now open for business. As promised, I wrote a short article outlining our vision for the Global Biodiversity Threats section of the journal. It’s open-access, of course, so I’m also copying here on […]


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