Language extinction triggers the loss of unique medicinal knowledge | PNAS

Abstract:  The United Nations proclamation of 2022–2032 as the International Decade of Indigenous Languages aims to raise global awareness about their endangerment and importance for sustainable development. Indigenous languages contain the knowledge that communities have about their surrounding plants and the services they provide. The use of plants in medicine is a particularly relevant example of such ecosystem services. Here, we find that most medicinal knowledge is linguistically unique—i.e., known by a single language—and more strongly associated with threatened languages than with threatened plants. Each indigenous language is therefore a unique reservoir of medicinal knowledge—a Rosetta stone for unraveling and conserving nature’s contributions to people.

 

The Global Extinction of Languages Is Threatening a Vital Type of Human Knowledge

“As human languages are driven to extinction around the world, a verbal encyclopedia of medical knowledge is on the brink of being forgotten.

Among 12,495 medicinal uses for plants in indigenous communities, new research has found over 75 percent of those plants are each tied to just one local language. If these unique words trickle out of use, so too may the knowledge they contain….

Language extinction is a tragic phenomenon that’s been occurring worldwide, as languages spoken by precious few people are replaced by larger ones. Roughly one language ceases to be spoken every four months, and 3,054 languages are currently endangered around the world….

The vast majority of plant species in the study were found to have medical properties described in just one indigenous language, many of which are themselves endangered….

In North America, for instance, the authors found waning indigenous languages held 86 percent of all unique knowledge on plant medicine. In the northwest Amazon, on the other hand, 100 percent of medicinal plant knowledge is restricted to languages on the edge of extinction. …”

Increasing transparency through open science badges

“Authors who adopt transparent practices for an article in Conservation Biology are now able to select from 3 open science badges: open data, open materials, and preregistration. Badges appear on published articles as visible recognition and highlight these efforts to the research community. There is an emerging body of literature regarding the influences of badges, for example, an increased number of articles with open data (Kidwell et al 2016) and increased rate of data sharing (Rowhani?Farid et al. 2018). However, in another study, Rowhani?Farid et al. (2020) found that badges did not “noticeably motivate” researchers to share data. Badges, as far as we know, are the only data?sharing incentive that has been tested empirically (Rowhani?Farid et al. 2017).

Rates of data and code sharing are typically low (Herold 2015; Roche et al 2015; Archmiller et al 2020; Culina et al 2020). Since 2016, we have asked authors of contributed papers, reviews, method papers, practice and policy papers, and research notes to tell us whether they “provided complete machine and human?readable data and computer code in Supporting Information or on a public archive.” Authors of 31% of these articles published in Conservation Biology said they shared their data or code, and all authors provide human?survey instruments in Supporting Information or via a citation or online link (i.e., shared materials)….”

Access to scientific literature by the conservation community [PeerJ]

Abstract:  Access to the scientific literature is perceived to be a challenge to the biodiversity conservation community, but actual level of literature access relative to needs has never been assessed globally. We examined this question by surveying the constituency of the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN) as a proxy for the conservation community, generating 2,285 responses. Of these respondents, ?97% need to use the scientific literature in order to support their IUCN-related conservation work, with ?50% needing to do so at least once per week. The crux of the survey revolved around the question, “How easy is it for you currently to obtain the scientific literature you need to carry out your IUCN-related work?” and revealed that roughly half (49%) of the respondents find it not easy or not at all easy to access scientific literature. We fitted a binary logistic regression model to explore factors predicting ease of literature access. Whether the respondent had institutional literature access (55% do) is the strongest predictor, with region (Western Europe, the United States, Canada, Australia and New Zealand) and sex (male) also significant predictors. Approximately 60% of respondents from Western Europe, the United States, Canada, Australia and New Zealand have institutional access compared to ?50% in Asia and Latin America, and ?40% in Eastern Europe and in Africa. Nevertheless, accessing free online material is a popular means of accessing literature for both those with and without institutional access. The four journals most frequently mentioned when asked which journal access would deliver the greatest improvements to the respondent’s IUCN-related work were Conservation Biology, Biological Conservation, Nature, and Science. The majority prefer to read journal articles on screen but books in hard copy. Overall, it is apparent that access to the literature is a challenge facing roughly half of the conservation community worldwide.

 

Developing Open Access teaching materials to aid effective conservation practice – BES TEACHING AND LEARNING

“Dr Harriet Downey (@HarrietFDowney, hd438@cam.ac.uk) a Postdoctoral Research Associate at the University of Cambridge announces a new global project to provide open access teaching materials for conservation educators and calls for more collaborators….”

Access to Scientific Literature by the Conservation Community | bioRxiv

AbsAccess to the scientific literature is perceived to be a challenge to the biodiversity conservation community, but actual level of literature access relative to needs has never been assessed globally. We examined this question by surveying the constituency of the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN) as a proxy for the conservation community, generating 2,285 responses. Of these respondents, ~97% need to use the scientific literature in order to support their IUCN-related conservation work, with ~50% needing to do so at least once per week. The crux of the survey revolved around the question, “How easy is it for you currently to obtain the scientific literature you need to carry out your IUCN-related work?” and revealed that roughly half (49%) of the respondents find it not easy or not at all easy to access scientific literature. We fitted a binary logistic regression model to explore factors predicting ease of literature access. Whether the respondent had institutional literature access (55% do) is the strongest predictor, with region (Western Europe, the United States, Canada, Australia and New Zealand) and gender (male) also significant predictors. Approximately 60% of respondents from Western Europe, the United States, Canada, Australia and New Zealand have institutional access compared to ~50% in Asia and Latin America, and ~40% in Eastern Europe and in Africa. Nevertheless, accessing free online material is a popular means of accessing literature for both those with and without institutional access. The four journals most frequently mentioned when asked which journal access would deliver the greatest improvements to the respondent’s IUCN-related work were Conservation Biology, Biological Conservation, Nature, and Science. The majority prefer to read journal articles on screen but prefer to read books in hard copy. Overall, it is apparent that access to the literature is a challenge facing roughly half of the conservation community worldwide.

 

Access to Scientific Literature by the Conservation Community | bioRxiv

AbsAccess to the scientific literature is perceived to be a challenge to the biodiversity conservation community, but actual level of literature access relative to needs has never been assessed globally. We examined this question by surveying the constituency of the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN) as a proxy for the conservation community, generating 2,285 responses. Of these respondents, ~97% need to use the scientific literature in order to support their IUCN-related conservation work, with ~50% needing to do so at least once per week. The crux of the survey revolved around the question, “How easy is it for you currently to obtain the scientific literature you need to carry out your IUCN-related work?” and revealed that roughly half (49%) of the respondents find it not easy or not at all easy to access scientific literature. We fitted a binary logistic regression model to explore factors predicting ease of literature access. Whether the respondent had institutional literature access (55% do) is the strongest predictor, with region (Western Europe, the United States, Canada, Australia and New Zealand) and gender (male) also significant predictors. Approximately 60% of respondents from Western Europe, the United States, Canada, Australia and New Zealand have institutional access compared to ~50% in Asia and Latin America, and ~40% in Eastern Europe and in Africa. Nevertheless, accessing free online material is a popular means of accessing literature for both those with and without institutional access. The four journals most frequently mentioned when asked which journal access would deliver the greatest improvements to the respondent’s IUCN-related work were Conservation Biology, Biological Conservation, Nature, and Science. The majority prefer to read journal articles on screen but prefer to read books in hard copy. Overall, it is apparent that access to the literature is a challenge facing roughly half of the conservation community worldwide.

 

Publishing an Open Access Textbook on Environmental Sciences: Conservation Biology in Sub-Saharan Africa

“But we faced a major challenge: how can we effectively reach our target audience, even in the most isolated corners of Sub-Saharan Africa? Print publishers would be unable to produce and distribute this type of book across dozens of African countries. At 694 pages and with hundreds of color photos, most African students would also not be able to buy such a substantial book, so the project would neither be profitable nor feasible for a print publisher.  For this reason, we concluded that the textbook would reach the widest audience and have the greatest impact if it was produced under an Open Access license, which guarantees free distribution rights to anyone who may benefit from the work.

The textbook, eventually published under a Creative Commons (CC BY) license by Open Book Publishers, was a resounding success. As evidence of how much the work was needed, the book was viewed nearly 7,000 times within six months of publication.  There is no question: this remarkable reach, and the impact this book is having in making conservation training more accessible, could only have been achieved through Open Access publishing….”