Ecology journal flags carnivore paper under investigation

journal-of-applied-ecologyAn ecology journal has issued an expression of concern (EOC) for a recently published study, citing an institutional investigation about the data and conclusions.

According to the notice — issued by the Journal of Applied Ecology — the author’s institution in South Africa has received a report from an independent examiner. The editors are reviewing the paper — about reducing the impact of lethal carnivores such as black-backed jackals — “in light of this information.”

An official from the journal told us the investigation has to do with “relevant background information” that was not included in the study, published online in December.

Here’s the EOC, published earlier this month:

With this notice, Journal of Applied Ecology informs readers of an ongoing investigation to examine concerns regarding the data and conclusions presented in the paper. The ethics committee of the authors’ institution have conducted an assessment and have received a report from an independent investigator appointed to examine the concerns. The Editors are reviewing the paper in light of this information. This notice will be updated when the investigation is complete.

The 2015 paper, “Compensatory life-history responses of a mesopredator may undermine carnivore management efforts,” has yet to be cited, according to Thomson Reuters Web of Science.

Liaan Minnie, the study’s first author from Nelson Mandela Metropolitan University in Port Elizabeth, South Africa, told us:

The Journal is still in the process of reviewing the published paper. Accordingly, I want to wait for the final outcome of before I provide any comments.

Erika Newton, managing editor at British Ecological Society, which publishes the Journal of Applied Ecology, declined to share the report by the university ethics committee, but said:

The ongoing investigation by the journal relates to some relevant background information which was not presented in the paper. We are currently assessing the impact of this information on the results and conclusions.

We emailed the Nelson Mandela Metropolitan University for more information about the case; when we called, an answering machine message said the institution was closed due to the ongoing student strikes.  

We’ll update the post with anything else we learn.

Hat tip: René Malenfant

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