Science maps for biogeography—The field's place within the sciences and its change over the past quarter century

Susanne S. Renner, Flemming Skov

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Aim: The field of biogeography is often described as a hub between research disciplines. Here we apply science mapping to study how biogeography has changed and evolved between 1995 and April 2022, and to analyse the mix of disciplines used in this field. We explore how research foci have changed over time and if biogeographical topics have entered the public discourse. Location: Local to global. Taxon: All taxa. Methods: We created a semantic map of the field based on co-occurrences of keywords or composite keywords from 40,000+ scientific papers published between the 1970s and April 2022, structuring these data into three hierarchical sets. A fourth set of Top 100 researchers was constructed in September 2022. To address our public-discourse question, we used the Factiva archive of global media. Results: Five core journals contained 14,386 papers (or 35.7% of the full set), while the remaining papers appeared in 2247 journals of which 59% included only one or two biogeographical papers. Since 1995, frequencies of keywords related to core concerns of biogeography have remained stable or even decreased, while ‘computing’ and ‘climate change’ have increased. There is an increasing association with Mathematics & Statistics, Computer Sciences, and Planning & Management, and a decreased association with Physical Geography. Biogeography-related terms increasingly appearing in the public discourse are ‘biodiversity’, ‘urban nature’, ‘conservation’, ‘extinction’ and ‘rewilding’, while more technical concepts, such as ‘ecoregions’, ‘macroecology’ and ‘island biogeography’ remain at very low rates. Main Conclusions: Biogeographical research is moving towards the social sciences, probably linked to a growing concern over global environmental issues and the Anthropocene. It is difficult to disentangle to what extent the public discourse is influenced by biogeographical research or vice versa, but ‘rewilding’ and ‘extinction’ are examples of topics that began in basic ecological-biogeographical research and are now debated publicly.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)805-815
Number of pages11
JournalJournal of Biogeography
Issue number4
StatePublished - Apr 2023


  • biogeography
  • multiple disciplinarity
  • public discourse
  • research fronts
  • science mapping
  • scientometry
  • trends in biogeography


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