Journal article

Consequences of inconsistently classifying woodland birds

Hannah Fraser, Georgia E Garrard, Libby Rumpff, Cindy E Hauser, Michael A McCarthy



There is a longstanding debate regarding the need for ecology to develop consistent terminology. On one hand, consistent terminology would aid in synthesizing results between studies and ease communication of results. On the other hand, there is no proof that standardizing terminology is necessary and it could limit the scope of research in certain fields. This article is the first to provide evidence that terminology can influence results of ecological studies. We find that researchers are classifying "woodland birds" inconsistently because of their research aims and linguistic uncertainty. Importantly, we show that these inconsistencies introduce a systematic bias to results. We argue that..

View full abstract


Awarded by ARC

Funding Acknowledgements

This research is supported by the Australian Research Council (ARC) Centre of Excellence for Environmental Decisions and the National Environmental Research Program Environmental Decisions hub. MM is supported by an ARC Future Fellowship. LR is supported by ARC LP110100321. GG is supported by The Myer Foundation. We would like to thank Jim Radford and Andrew Bennett for species occurrence and landscape data, Gary Luck for the use of his database to re-run the Garrard et al. model, and the woodland bird experts who graciously gave up their time to contribute their views and knowledge to this work. Ethics approval for the consultation of woodland bird experts was provided by the University of Melbourne Humanities and Applied Sciences ethics committee (ethics ID 1340594).