… Clive Marks, director at Nocturnal Wildlife Research in Melbourne, who has been conducting an independent review of the evidence with nine colleagues, has also questioned its reliability. In 2014, Marks and colleagues published a letter to the editor in Forensic Science International: Genetics, explaining that one of the three molecular tests that Sarre used to detect foxes was inadequate “because of the high likelihood of false positives.”
Another issue, according to Marks, is that Sarre has never made his data openly accessible, despite numerous requests. In 2014, Marks sent a letter to the vice-chancellor and president of the University of Canberra, where Sarre is based, expressing his concerns with Sarre’s research and requesting that Sarre be required to share his data to allow other researchers to perform an “independent review.” Marks told us:
Science can’t function without critical review. If data are firewalled from the rest of the scientific community by legal agreement then journals shouldn’t publish papers claiming reaching conclusions that no one can test…
Last year, Marks also wrote to the Journal of Applied Ecology expressing his concerns.
We reached out to Sarre, the Department of Primary Industries, Parks, Water and Environment (DPIPWE) and the University of Canberra for further insights on the research and the investigation. The managing editor of the Journal of Applied Ecology told us that the investigation by the DPIPWE in Tasmania is ongoing and when it has concluded:
… we will assess whether this has any impact on the results and conclusions presented in the paper. The Expression of Concern will be updated as soon as we have determined the appropriate course of action for the paper. …