70 years of herpetology in India: insights into shifts in focal research areas and gender ratios among authors
journal contributionposted on 15.04.2022, 07:56 by Vivek Philip Cyriac, Sneha Dharwardkar, Anuja Mital, Ashwini Venkatanarayana Mohan
Herpetology in India started as a science during the British colonial rule with the documentation of herpetofauna. Several studies have outlined the early history of Indian herpetology; however, few have traced the growth of this field since India’s independence. We analyse trends in Indian herpetology focusing on taxa, subfields, and authorship over the last 70 years. Of the 1177 published articles we analysed, 64.9% studied reptiles, 26.5% studied amphibians and 8.6% were general herpetofaunal studies. Frogs, lizards, and snakes being the most diverse herpetofauna groups, each accounted for 20-21% of the published articles and significantly outnumber publications on caecilians (2.3%), salamanders (0.4%), chelonians (12.6%), and crocodiles (4.4%). We found a significantly greater number of publications on Diversity & Distribution (34.2%), Taxonomy & Systematics (21.5%) and Ecology (19.2%) compared to other subfields, and detected a decline in Development, Physiology & Cytology and Evolutionary biology studies over the last four decades (1980-2019). The gender ratio among co-authors was dominated by men with only 29.7% of publications containing women authors. The overall proportion of women authors has not changed significantly over decades, but our analyses detected a significant decrease in women first authors and the proportion of women authors when the corresponding authors were men. Women authors were substantially lower in the subfield of Taxonomy & Systematics, and women published significantly more on amphibians compared to reptiles. Overall, we highlight the growth of herpetology in India from two key viewpoints, scientific pursuits, and gender parity among herpetologists.