Research press release


Nature Plants

Plants: Research may be skewed towards more attractive plants

研究者は、生態学的な重要性とは無関係に、美しく魅力的な植物を研究の対象にしている傾向があることを示唆する論文が、Nature Plants に掲載される。今回の知見は、保全生物学的に重要であり、より良い研究活動への有用な情報になると考えられる。


今回、Martino Adamoたちは、過去45年間の査読付き論文280編に記述がある、南西アルプスに典型的な113種の植物を分析した。その結果、研究者からの注目を集める形質が、観察しやすい花や目立ちやすさなどの形態的特徴であることが見いだされた。最も研究されているのは青色の花を咲かせる植物で、白や赤、ピンクの花を咲かせる植物の方が、基準とした緑色や褐色の花を咲かせる植物よりも多くの論文に記述されていた。植物が自らを他の植物の中で目立つようにするための草丈も、研究の対象になりやすいことの一因であった。また、希少性は、研究の注目を集める大きな要因ではないことも明らかになった。


Plants that have aesthetic appeal are more likely to be studied by researchers regardless of their ecological importance, suggests a paper published in Nature Plants. These findings have implications for conservation biology and may inform better research practices.

Plants have played a significant role in the evolution of modern science, and their properties continue to be analysed. A researcher conducting a laboratory-based study might consider functional criteria, such as growth rate or genetics, to identify a plant species to examine, whereas field scientists might prioritize a particular species based on various non-ecological factors. Such scenarios might alter research outcomes and could impact future conservation efforts, but quantifying these biases has been difficult.

Martino Adamo and colleagues analysed 113 plant species—typical of the Southwestern Alps—mentioned in 280 peer-reviewed papers over the past 45 years. The authors found that morphological characteristics, such as accessible flowers and conspicuousness, were among the traits that attracted research attention. They also found that blue plants were the most studied, and that white, red and pink flowers were more common in the literature than the baseline of green and brown plants. Stem height, a plant’s ability to stand out among others, was also a contributing factor. The authors also determined that rarity was not a significant driver for research attention.

These morphological traits, which do not affect the ecological relevance and importance of the plants, constitute an ‘aesthetic bias’, argue the authors. This bias may have negative impacts in that it may skew conservation efforts in favour of plants that get more attention, regardless of other plants and the health of the overall ecosystem.

doi: 10.1038/s41477-021-00912-2


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