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John Young Rediscovered the Australian Night Parrot, but Did He Lie About His Later Findings? (Audubon)

Posted on by Brendan Borrell

Much of Young's research on the nocturnal bird has been retracted over scientific shenanigans including allegations of a botched call recording, a planted feather, and bogus nests and eggs.

[This is an update to my feature on John Young]

There is no doubt that John Young rediscovered Australia’s Night Parrot in 2013. But the naturalist may have fabricated just about everything he reported about new populations and nesting sites of the birds over the past two years.

That’s the conclusion of an independent panel of experts convened by the Australian Wildlife Conservancy (AWC), to review the work of Young, their former employee, who once called himself the “Wild Detective.”

The panel, led by ecologist Peter Menkhorst of the Arthur Rylah Institute for Environmental Research in Melbourne, recommended that all of Young’s Night Parrot work with the AWC be retracted, effectively reducing the number of known populations of the critically endangered Night Parrots to three from five.

“There were too many questions for them to be considered as confirmed records,” says Menkhorst. He says that clearing up the record was critical so that conservationists could make informed decisions, but added that the investigation fell short of demonstrating scientific misconduct beyond a reasonable doubt. “We haven’t been able to prove that.”

Read the rest at Audubon