Biased and subjective choices of metrics to be used in ecological studies could lead researchers to reach misleading conclusions regarding patterns of biodiversity response to human disturbances. Nevertheless, little attention has been given to the choices of variables in the majority of studies published to date.

Here, the authors use the literature concerning land use change effects on dung beetles to assess the extent to which variables commonly employed in ecological studies correspond to those deemed to be most important by researchers of the same studies.

The results highlight marked disparities between researchers opinion expressed in the survey and their choice of variables in published papers. The authors suggest that these disparities are due to the high costs of sampling and processing some variables, logistical constraints and different perceptions of importance amongst researchers.

These issues are important for our understanding of the biodiversity consequences of land use change, and the authors highlight some recommendations for alleviating this issue.

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