About this Research Topic
The paper entitled “Examining evident interdisciplinarity among prides of lion researchers” in review by Montgomery et al. in Frontiers in Ecology and Evolution demonstrates that interdisciplinarity among human-lion conflict research has historically been low. This review of human-lion conflict papers published between 1990 and 2015 found that despite exponential growth in research on this topic across that time period, the number of authors engaged in that research was low and remarkably consistent (mean = 3.28 authors, se = 0.19). Furthermore, authors of human-lion conflict research tended to derive from three highly related STEM disciplines (wildlife management/conservation, biology/zoology, and environmental science). Comparatively, co-authors from the humanities and social sciences were highly underrepresented. This homogeneity presents problems for the research effort which is rather diverse and involves five predominant dimensions: 1) carnivore dimension, 2) livestock dimension, 3) wild prey dimension, 4) environmental dimension, and 5) human dimension. For example, despite the fact that co-authors from the social sciences and humanities occurred in < 4% of these human-lion conflict papers, the human dimension was the most commonly studied dimension.
This evidence demonstrates that over the last quarter century, researchers of human-lion conflict research have not been very interdisciplinary. Given the rapidly-expanding appreciation of the importance of interdisciplarinarity research for theoretical, empirical, and applied science, these trends are troubling. All of that being said, the lack of interdisciplinarity apparent from 1990-2015 is not emblematic of the ongoing efforts among human-lion conflict researchers to diversify their efforts today. Thus, with this special issue we ask the fundamental question: how are prides of lion researchers evolving to be more interdisciplinary? In this Research Topic we explore the ways in which lion researchers view the role of interdisciplinarity in their research. We examine whether interdisciplinary teams are best positioned to develop sustainable solutions to conserve lions populations. We do so by positioning lion research groups, from across the range of Panthera leo, to describe their research program and articulate the steps that they are taking to be interdisciplinary.
The papers comprising this Research Topic convey the value of interdisciplinarity for the development of solutions for human-lion conflict, describe the importance of multidimensional research for conserving lions, and discuss the applied impacts of this research on the human communities that share their landscapes with lions. These papers come from research groups studying lions in West, Central, East, and Southern African as well as from the Greater Gir Landscape in India. This special issue closes with a paper detailing how this research effort can expand to be even more interdisciplinary in the years to come with predictions of the benefits of these efforts for lions, people, and ecosystems, more broadly.
Keywords: collaboration, interdisciplinary, lion, multidisciplinary, Panthera leo
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