Wikipedia:Peer review/Conservation biology/archive1

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Conservation biology[edit]

This peer review discussion has been closed.
I've listed this article for peer review because it has received lots of attention in the past year. This article has expanded in size, it thoroughly covers the entire subject area, and is well cited. It does not have a rating in the importance scale, but is should be rated very high since Conservation Biology is arguably the most important biological topic of our time.

Thanks, Thompsma (talk) 00:04, 28 September 2009 (UTC)

Finetooth comments: This is a quite interesting article on an important topic; however, the lead does not seem to be a summary of the whole article, and I think it might improve the article's flow to put "History" first and to organize the material chronologically, as far as that can be done. The writing is a bit uneven; some sections are specific and well-supported, while others seem vague, idealized, or theoretical rather than verifiable. The article could use a good top-to-bottom copyedit to find and fix many small errors. Here are a few more specific suggestions.


  • MOS:INTRO says in part, "The lead section should briefly summarize the most important points covered in an article in such a way that it can stand on its own as a concise version of the article." The existing lead is more like the introductory paragraphs of an essay than a summary or abstract of the whole article. A good rule of thumb is to include a mention of each of the main text sections and not to include material in the lead that is not developed in the main text sections.
  • "The concern stems from estimates suggesting that up to 50% of all species on the planet will disappear within the next 50 years, which has contributed to poverty, starvation, and will reset the course of evolution on this planet." - There's a bit of a mix-up here because of the switch in verb tenses. The future disappearance of species can't have already contributed to poverty and starvation. Perhaps this would be better: "The concern stems from estimates suggesting that up to 50 percent of all species on Earth will disappear within the next 50 years; this will re-set the course of evolution and contribute to poverty and starvation."
  • "Conservation biologists research and educate on the trends and process of biodiversity loss, species extinctions, and the negative affect this is having on our capabilities to sustain the well-being of human society." - Wikipedia generally avoids using the first-person (I, we, mine, us, ours) in this way. Better would be "Conservation biologists research and educate on the trends and process of biodiversity loss, species extinctions, and the negative effect these have on the ability of human society to sustain itself."
  • "Organizations and citizens are responding to the biodiversity crisis through conservation action plans that direct research, monitoring, and education programs that engage concerns at local through global scales." - Vague. The essence of this is "People are responding to the problem with plans and programs." I'd suggest either deleting the sentence or saying something more specific.

Sixth extinction

  • "(see also [64][65])." - All the citations should be in-line here and throughout the article.
  • "over the course of the earth's 4 billion year history" - I like the more specific meaning of Earth with a big "E"; numbers smaller than 10 are usually written as words, and the triple adjective needs hyphens. Suggestion: "over the course of Earth's four-billion-year history".

Status of oceans and reefs

  • "The largest period of decline occurred in a dramatic "bleaching" event in 1998, where approximately 16% of all the coral reefs in the world disappeared in less than a year." - "during which" rather than "where"?
  • "The oceans are threatened by acidification due to an increase in CO2 levels." - It might be good to spell out CO2 on first use, thus: "The oceans are threatened by acidification due to an increase in carbon dioxide (CO2) levels."

Insects and other groups

  • "There are serious concerns also being hailed from taxonomic groups that do not receive the same degree of social attention or attract funds as the vertebrates do, including fungi, lichen, plant and insect[12][29][30] communities where the vast majority of biodiversity is represented." - "Hail" isn't something a taxonomic group can do, and the sentence is a bit wordy. Suggestion: "Researchers have also raised serious concerns about taxonomic groups that do not attract as much attention as vertebrates. These groups include fungi, lichen, plant, and insect communities representing the vast majority of biodiversity."
  • "which has infested 470,000 km2 (180,000 sq mi)" - Generally in Wikipedia the primary unit is spelled out and the secondary unit abbreviated in a particular way. I like to use the {{convert}} template because it spells and abbreviates correctly in addition to doing the math; e.g., 470,000 square kilometres (180,000 sq mi).
  • Threats to biodiversity
  • "leaving them 'not-so protected' - Generally double-quotes are preferred to single-quotes; i.e. "leaving them "not-so protected".
  • "because the global network of protected areas only covers 11.5% of the Earth's surface" - Two sentences before this sentence, you use "percent" and here "%". You might use % throughout since it's a scientific article with many instances of %.

Measuring extinction rates

  • "Estimates vary greatly on how many species actually exist (estimated range: 3,600,000-111,700,000)". - Date ranges take en dashes rather than hyphens.
  • "Less than 1% of all species that have been described have been studied beyond simply noting its existence." - "their existence" rather than "its existence"?

Conservation biology as a profession

  • "Within biology, conservation genetics and evolution are immense fields unto themselves... " - Delete "unto"?
  • "Is conservation biology an objective science when biologists advocate for an inherent value in nature? Do conservationists introduce bias when they support policies using qualitative description, such as habitat degradation, or healthy ecosystems? As all scientists hold values, so do conservation biologists." - I'd suggest deleting the rhetorical questions, which seem to be coming from Wikipedia editors rather than from reliable sources. In fact, this entire paragraph generalizes in a way that seems to wander from a neutral point of view. The claim that "Conservation biologists advocate for reasoned and sensible management of natural resources and do so with a disclosed combination of science, reason, logic, and values in their conservation management plans" is probably an ideal within the field rather than a verifiable fact. Are there no unreasonable conservation biologists? Do conservation biologists never act in a less than ideal way? Who says that "This sort of advocacy is similar to the medical profession advocating for healthy lifestyle options, both are beneficial to human well-being yet remain scientific in their approach"? It's not that I disagree with these sentiments; it's that I think they are unverifiable generalizations.
  • "Adaptive conservation leadership is reflective and more equitable as it applies to any member of society who can mobilize others toward meaningful change using communication techniques that are inspiring, purposeful, and collegial." - Again, this seems to be a statement of a vague ideal rather than a claim that is verifiable.

Ethics and values

  • The second paragraph makes claims but provides no sources.

Conservation priorities

  • "The IUCN Red List categories, which appear on Wikipedia species articles, is an example of the hotspot conservation approach in action; species that are not rare or endemic are listed the least concern and their wikipedia articles tend to be ranked low on the importance scale." - Generally Wikipedia avoids being directly self-referential. Wikipedia cannot be a reliable source for itself, in other words.

Economic values and natural capital

  • "The WWF publishes its... " - It's a good idea to spell out abbreviated terms on first use; i.e, "The World Wildlife Federation (WWF) publishes its... ".
  • "For example, one segment of North American forests has been assigned an annual value of 250 billion dollars... " - Wikipedia uses "$250 billion". Ditto for other dollar amounts in the article.


  • Would it be more logical to start the article with History rather than to end with it?

Natural resource conservation

20th century conservation

  • Blockquotes are preferred to fancy quotes. MOS:QUOTE has details.


  • Many of the references are incomplete or malformed. A good rule of thumb for citations to Internet sources is to include author, title, publisher, date of publication, url, and access date. I like to use the "cite" family of templates, but a variety of methods are OK as long as the needed data is provided in a consistent way.
  • Citation 54 is dead.


  • The dabfinder tool that lives here finds four links that go to disambiguation pages instead of their intended targets.

I hope these suggestions prove helpful. Finetooth (talk) 04:37, 10 October 2009 (UTC)

  • Awesome job Finetooth!! I will slowly pick away at these suggestions.Thompsma (talk) 22:33, 18 October 2009 (UTC)