Birds of a feather: Duplication grounds migration paper

wemcoverA group of bird researchers in China has lost their article in Wetlands Ecology and Management on the migratory habits of shorebirds after the editors of the journal learned that they’d cobbled the paper together from their own previously published work.

The article by Song et. al., “Ecological stability of the shorebird stopover site in the Yalu River Estuary Wetlands, China,” had appeared online in February.

Here’s the abstract:

Migratory shorebirds need to accumulate energy rapidly at stopover sites during their long journeys. The ecosystem function of stopover sites has gained wide public attention because the composition and stability of the biological community at these sites play important roles in the migration of waders. Estuarine ecological systems frequently are subjected to increasing threats from diverse anthropogenic and environmental pressures. A survey of the biotic community (benthos, plankton, and nekton) along the Yalu River Estuary Wetland in the Northern Yellow Sea was conducted to assess species diversity, species abundances, species succession, and temporal variations in these parameters. Sampling was conducted from March to October 201Seasonal changes in the composition of the plankton were affected significantly by human activities (e.g., mudflat aquaculture) and natural stressors (e.g., nutrient inputs to the coastal ocean form the Yalu River). The intertidal benthic community, which was dominated by bivalves, gastropods, and polychaetes, was seriously affected by external disturbance in summer. Comparison of these data with those from previous surveys revealed that this part of the community has undergone ecological succession over the past 30 years. Analysis using the Abundance Biomass Comparison method revealed that the nekton community, which was composed mainly of small-bodied organisms, was in an extremely unstable state. The results of this study demonstrate that the biotic community of the Yalu River Estuary Wetland is not very diverse, undergoes significant species succession, and is increasingly affected by natural and anthropogenic stressors. The successional changes observed in this study suggest that anthropogenic stressors have a strong impact on the character of the benthos, plankton, and nekton and reveal the complex interactions among biotic and abiotic factors.

According to the retraction notice:

The Editors in Chief of Wetlands Ecology and Management received a complaint from an alert reader to the effect that the paper ‘Ecological stability of the shorebird stopover site in the Yalu River estuary wetlands, China’ by Lun Song, Guojun Yang, Liqiang Zhao, Yanan Lu, Nan Li and Nianbin Wang, published as Online First article in Wetlands Ecology and Management is a plagiarized version of an earlier articles published in: 1) ‘A study on bioecology of the stopover site of waders within China’s Yalu River estuary wetlands by Song L., Yang G.J., Li A. and Wang N.B. (Acta Ecologica Sinica, 2011, Vol. 31(24): 7500–7510) and 2) ‘The stress response of biological communities in Chins’s Yalu River Estuary and neighboring waters’ (Acta Ecologica Sinica, 2013, Vol. 33 (9):2790–2802). The ‘results’ part of the Wetlands Ecology and Management paper contained exactly the same tables and figures of results as those of the articles published in 2011 and 2013. Accordingly, and as per the journal’s policy on plagiarism, it has been decided to withdraw the article published by Lun Song, Guojun Yang, Liqiang Zhao, Yanan Lu, Nan Li and Nianbin Wang in Wetlands Ecology and Management. The Editorial Board takes a serious view of acts of plagiarism in the journal and is committed to take all necessary steps to prevent such acts.

Hat tip: Tom Langen

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