NCEAS Project 6860

Linking marine biodiversity to ecosystem functions and services

  • Boris Worm
  • Enric Sala

ActivityDatesFurther Information
Working Group22nd—27th November 2003Participant List  
Working Group7th—11th May 2004Participant List  
Graduate Student1st June—15th September 2004Participant List  
Working Group18th—22nd November 2004Participant List  
Working Group17th—20th February 2006Participant List  

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Abstract
Biodiversity, or biological diversity, is the variation of life at all levels of organization, from the level of genetic variation within and among species to the level of variation within and among communities, ecosystems and biomes. It is well-documented how human impacts are changing biodiversity in terrestrial (Wilson 1999) and marine ecosystems (NRC 1995). Historical studies in marine systems have further shown that long-term impacts often lead to the simplification of food webs, as species and species groups are driven to such low abundances that they become functionally extinct (Jackson et al. 2001, Lotze and Milewski 2002). The general consequences of these trends and changes for ecosystem functions, such as primary and secondary productivity, carbon and nutrient cycling, food and habitat provision are little understood in marine systems. The recent research focus on biodiversity, however, has generated a significant, albeit diffuse body of theory and empirical studies. Without synthesis, it is difficult to communicate to the public and to environmental managers why marine biodiversity matters, what the ecological and economic consequences of species loss and changes in biodiversity are, and how dramatic consequences can be prevented. The proposed working group aims to fill this gap. In addition to quantifying the link between marine biodiversity and ecosystem functioning, we will analyze the potential for the disruption of marine ecosystem services, which are those functions that are vital to our food supply, economies, and human health (see Fig. 1). Finally, we will use the results from our analyses to evaluate the costs and benefits of maintaining the status quo versus implementing significant global conservation measures. In three consecutive workshops we will (1) collate experimental and observational evidence on how marine biodiversity and ecosystem functions are linked in a web-accessible database, (2) conduct and publish a series of meta-analyses to derive generalizations about the effects of species loss, ecological simplification and changes in marine biodiversity on ecosystem functions and services, (3) write a policy paper that translates our results into management strategies.

TypeProducts of NCEAS Research
Journal Article Duffy, J. Emmett. 2006. Biodiversity and the functioning of seagrass ecosystems. Marine Ecology-Progress Series. Vol: 311. Pages 233-250.
Journal Article Duffy, J. Emmett; Stachowicz, John J. 2006. Why biodiversity is important to oceanography: potential roles of genetic, species, and trophic diversity in pelagic ecosystem processes. Marine Ecology-Progress Series. Vol: 311. Pages 179-189.
Data Set Halpern, Benjamin S. 2008. MPA data on ecosystem services. (Online version)
Journal Article Micheli, Fiorenza; Halpern, Benjamin S. 2005. Low functional redundancy in coastal marine assemblages. Ecology Letters. Vol: 8(4). Pages 391-400.
Presentations Micheli, Fiorenza; Halpern, Benjamin S. 2005. Recovery of trophic diversity and ecosystem functioning in marine protected areas. Joint Annual Meeting of the Ecological Society of America (ESA) and International Society for Ecology (INTECOL), August 2005. Montreal, Canada.
Data Set Micheli, Fiorenza; Halpern, Benjamin S. 2006. Summary table of marine protected areas. (Abstract) (Online version)
Journal Article Worm, Boris; Barbier, Edward B.; Beaumont, Nicola; Duffy, J. Emmett; Folke, Carl; Halpern, Benjamin S.; Jackson, Jeremy B.C.; Lotze, Heike K.; Micheli, Fiorenza; Palumbi, Stephen R.; Sala, Enric; Selkoe, Kimberly A.; Stachowicz, John J.; Watson, Reg. 2006. Impacts of biodiversity loss on ocean ecosystem services. Science. Vol: 314. Pages 787-790.
Data Set Worm, Boris. 2006. Impacts of biodiversity loss on ocean ecosystem services data. (Online version)
Journal Article Worm, Boris; Barbier, Edward B.; Beaumont, Nicola; Duffy, J. Emmett; Folke, Carl; Halpern, Benjamin S.; Jackson, Jeremy B.C.; Lotze, Heike K.; Micheli, Fiorenza; Palumbi, Stephen R.; Sala, Enric; Selkoe, Kimberly A.; Stachowicz, John J.; Watson, Reg. 2007. Biodiversity loss in the ocean: How bad is it? Response. Science. Vol: 316. Pages 1282-1284.
Journal Article Worm, Boris; Barbier, Edward B.; Beaumont, Nicola; Duffy, J. Emmett; Folke, Carl; Halpern, Benjamin S.; Jackson, Jeremy B.C.; Lotze, Heike K.; Micheli, Fiorenza; Palumbi, Stephen R.; Sala, Enric; Selkoe, Kimberly A.; Stachowicz, John J.; Watson, Reg. 2007. Response to comments on Impacts of biodiversity loss on ocean ecosystem services. Science. Vol: 316. Pages 1285.