Biodiversity reports need author rules


Two representatives from the agrochemical industry are among 40 authors of a fast-track assessment of pollinators by the Intergovernmental Platform on Biodiversity and Ecosystem Services (IPBES; see In our view, to support the credibility of assessment results, the IPBES needs a policy requiring authors to declare all funding sources, positions held and other potential conflicts of interest.

It is unclear how the IPBES deals with conflicts of interest. Their second plenary meeting last December postponed a decision on the matter. Authors are nominated by IPBES member states and other stakeholders to “reflect the range of scientific, technical and socio-economic views and expertise; geographical representation ... ; the diversity of knowledge systems ... ; and gender balance”. But the IPBES has no explicit rules for nomination or selection.

IPBES assessments could lead to far-reaching policy interventions, with financial implications for industry sectors (for example, in mining after assessment of land degradation and restoration, or for transport after invasive-species assessment). Given the role of agrochemicals in pollinator decline (J. van der Sluijs et al. Environ. Sci. Pollut. Res.; 2014), it is our view that scientists funded by such corporations should not be lead authors or coordinating lead authors on such assessments.

We also suggest that the IPBES publishes the names of all nominated authors, along with their nominators and justification for their appointment.

Author information



Corresponding author

Correspondence to Axel Hochkirch.

Rights and permissions

Reprints and Permissions

About this article

Verify currency and authenticity via CrossMark

Cite this article

Hochkirch, A., McGowan, P. & van der Sluijs, J. Biodiversity reports need author rules. Nature 516, 170 (2014).

Download citation

Further reading


By submitting a comment you agree to abide by our Terms and Community Guidelines. If you find something abusive or that does not comply with our terms or guidelines please flag it as inappropriate.


Quick links

Nature Briefing

Sign up for the Nature Briefing newsletter — what matters in science, free to your inbox daily.

Get the most important science stories of the day, free in your inbox. Sign up for Nature Briefing