The rapid erosion of biodiversity is among the biggest challenges human society is facing. Concurrently, major efforts are in place to quantify changes in biodiversity, to understand the consequences for ecosystem functioning and human wellbeing, and to develop sustainable management strategies. Based on comprehensive bibliometric analyses covering 134,321 publications, we report systematic spatial biases in biodiversity-related research. Research is dominated by wealthy countries, while major research deficits occur in regions with disproportionately high biodiversity as well as a high share of threatened species. Similarly, core scientists, who were assessed through their publication impact, work primarily in North America and Europe. Though they mainly exchange and collaborate across locations of these two continents, the connectivity among them has increased with time. Finally, biodiversity-related research has primarily focused on terrestrial systems, plants, and the species level, and is frequently conducted in Europe and Asia by researchers affiliated with European and North American institutions. The distinct spatial imbalances in biodiversity research, as demonstrated here, must be filled, research capacity built, particularly in the Global South, and spatially-explicit biodiversity data bases improved, curated and shared.