This is an evaluation of Kubo et al (2022).
Confidence (from 0 - 5): none given
Quality scale rating
“On a ‘scale of journals’, what ‘quality of journal’ should this be published in?: Note: 0= lowest/none, 5= highest/best”
Confidence (from 0 - 5): 4
See HERE for a more detailed breakdown of the evaluators’ ratings and predictions.
Note from The Unjournal: We made some very minimal corrections to spelling, punctuation, and grammar below.
A generally well-written/reasonably well argued paper addressing an important implication of the wildlife trade - the indirect, and often incidental effect of trade bans on the sale of species that may be sought in markets by buyers as alternatives. The paper argues that bans on the trade of species of conservation concern has spillover effects into the trade of closely related species to meet market demand - the premise is straightforward and often talked about but there have not been that many studies to my knowledge that explicitly tests such as hypothesis. Well done to the authors for putting this together.
The paper provides a timely case study of the nature and broader consequences of trade bans in the context of the wildlife trade, and why these consequences need to be more closely looked at after their implementation. Data presentation and analytical framework based on the application of SDID appears sound - and the authors have also gone on to conduct sensitivity analyses.
I would recommend the publication of this paper with some minor revisions, including tightening the language at many parts of the paper for clarity and coherence, and also more caveats for the (public) dataset used.
Principal claim - trade bans have spillover effects into the sale of species not specifically targeted by the ban per se. The paper tests this hypothesis and found what I would consider to be reasonable evidence/support (although the volume of the species sold are relatively small in my view). That said, I haven’t seen many studies that have investigated the causality of policy changes on trade of specific species, so I find it interesting to see this being demonstrated here.
My confidence on the claims made - 70-75%.
Analytical approach is sound and novel (this is the first time I have seen the use of SDID to this sort of analyses), but I would recommend more explicit recognition of the limitations that would come with such a dataset (do you think there is leakage, sale of the banned species through alternative markets). Blanket bans can drive several types of outcomes in the trade of wildlife, and in many parts of the world where governance is weak, there is bought to be leakage into the black market (so what is reported formally may not fully capture the scale of trade) - this would need to be made clever.
Ideally, it would be good to explore such patterns for a large suite of species (and species that are traded in high volumes) but I appreciate that this may not always be realistically possible.
P2: More background to the online wildlife trade should be given in the intro - for context setting. Suggest to provide examples of species and species groups popular in the online trade. I find that the intro currently reads very generically, and not particularly informative at this stage.
P6: Interested to see how you derived these numbers for the alternative taxa to be traded. Please provide citations. Also hard to define what is ‘substitutable’ - in the eyes of buyers, although one reasonable position is to provide lists of closely related species.
P8: Sounds more like you are providing policy and management recommendations, than ‘implications’. Lots of recommended steps provided here - do make sure they are well substantiated- and backed by sources
P8: Has there been any examples where a species has been substituted in a formal/management-driven way?
P8: How do you recommend that the monitoring be done, and how many taxa can you effectively monitor, to determine the nature and direction of these market shifts?
P8: Can cut away the usual discussion about how biodiversity conservation is afflicted by the lack of funds. Its well known, and does not add a lot to your discussion.
P9: Do you have a good reasoning to want to pursue collaboration beyond CITES? Could CITES provide the umbrella for these collaborations? I find the last bits of the discussion to be rather general, and not much of a value-add.
P11: What steps did you take to manually check and confirm the species names?
P1: ‘Regulations on the harvest and use of natural resources
P1: ‘knee-jerk’ probably captures what you mean more clearly.
P1: What kind of modern technologies? Vague.
P2: Not clear what you mean by ‘distribution’ - of the species afflicted? Please re-word
P6: I think ‘show’ is a better word.
P6: Side or incidental effects
P6: ‘has important policy implications’
Figure 5: left panel vs right panel
P7: be specific - harms conservation by driving up demand (for the alternatives) - and increased wild harvest
P7: accentuate threats to biodiversity - the trade bans can also effectively undermine the conservation of species and species groups
P8: accelerate declines of species
P10: increased volumes of harvest for the trade
P10: What is the reasoning why these three species were chosen?
P11: each taxon banned
How long have you been in this field?
How many proposals and papers have you evaluated?