Support early-career field researchers

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Science  15 May 2020:
Vol. 368, Issue 6492, pp. 724-725
DOI: 10.1126/science.abc1261

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  • Support International Collaboration
    • Graham H. Pyke, Professor, Department of Biological Sciences, Macquarie University, Ryde, NSW 2019, Australia
    • Other Contributors:
      • Zong-Xin Ren, Associate Professor, CAS Key Laboratory for Plant Diversity and Biogeography of East Asia, Kunming Institute of Botany, Chinese Academy of Sciences,
      • Klaus Lunau, Professor, Institute of Sensory Ecology, Heinrich-Heine-University, Dusseldorf, Germany
      • De-Zhu Li, Professor, Germplasm Bank of Wild Species, Kunming Institute of Botany, Chinese Academy of Sciences, Kunming 650201, P.R. China

    Recent articles have pointed out the need, in the current situation arising from the Covid-19 pandemic, to support field researchers, especially those in early stages of their careers (1), and to preserve research capacity, especially in the ‘Global South’ (2). To these we now add the necessity to maintain and enhance international collaboration across the continents.
    As a result of the Covid-19 pandemic, international travel is greatly restricted, thus preventing many kinds of internationally collaborative research. It is, for example, difficult or impossible to carry out biological field research that requires onsite collaboration involving researchers from different countries. We have experienced this ourselves as field research, involving collaborators from China, Australia and Germany, that we carried out during 2019 in the Yulong Snow Mountains of SW China (3) is not possible in 2020. There are doubtless many other similar examples.
    Another looming consequence of the pandemic is reduced research funding, especially funding in support of international collaboration. As countries must cope with economic (as well as human) impacts of the virus, research funding seems like to decrease in general and particularly for international collaboration. This would be unfortunate as international collaborations take time and effort to establish, and are of great benefit to scientific advances for the world as a whole.
    Of course, to some extent, these consequences...

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    Competing Interests: None declared.

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