In this work, we evaluate the impact of species distribution models (SDMs) on the current status of environmental and ecological journals by asking the question to which degree development of SDMs in the literature is related to recent changes in the impact factors of ecological journals. The results indicate a positive relationship between the number of SDM related articles published in a journal and its impact factor (IF) growth during the period 2000–09. The hypothesis evaluated states that research fronts are likely to attract research attention and potentially drive citation patterns, with journals concentrating papers related to the research front receiving more attention and benefiting from faster increases in their impact on the ecological literature.
However, the percentage of SDM related papers in a journal was strongly and positively associated with the percentage of papers on climate change and statistical issues. The results support the hypothesis that global change science has been critical in the development of SDMs and that interest in climate change research in particular, rather than the usage of SDM per se, appears as an important factor behind journal IF increases in ecology and environmental sciences. Finally, our results on SDM application in global change science support the view that scientific interest rather than methodological fashion appears to be the major driver of research attraction in the scientific literature.
Brotons L (2014) Species Distribution Models and Impact Factor Growth in Environmental Journals: Methodological Fashion or the Attraction of Global Change Science. PLoS ONE 9(11): e111996. doi:10.1371/journal.pone.0111996.