Scientists identify uncertainties and next steps for linking biodiversity and ecosystem services

Fish on trawler. Photo source: NOAA

As biodiversity and ecosystem services decline worldwide, scientists and policymakers are working together to identify effective policy solutions, as evidenced by the creation of the Intergovernmental Platform on Biodiversity and Ecosystem Services (IPBES) in 2012. To contribute to this international effort, researchers at NCEAS recently published their assessment of current uncertainties and key scientific needs related to understanding the relationship between biodiversity and six crucial ecosystem services: forage, timber, fishery stability, climate regulation, pest regulation, and water quality. Findings of the NCEAS working group Biodiversity and the functioning of ecosystems: Translating results from model experiments into functional reality are published in BioScience.

Understanding when biodiversity conservation and ecosystem-service maintenance are compatible is needed to inform decision-making. "A new synthesis supported by NCEAS found that limited or incomplete data has often precluded our understanding of how biodiversity and forage, fisheries, or climate regulation are directly linked," said lead author Patricia Balvanera, Professor, Centro de Investigaciones en Ecosistemas (CIEco) at the National Autonomous University of Mexico. "New interdisciplinary syntheses and experiments under realistic conditions could fill these gaps and inform the outcomes of alternative management and policy scenarios."

Linking biodiversity and ecosystem services: Current uncertainties and the necessary next steps
Patricia Balvanera, Ilyas Siddique, Laura Dee, Alain Paquette, Forest Isbell, Andrew Gonzalez, Jarrett Byrnes, Mary I. O'Connor, Bruce A. Hungate, and John N. Griffin
BioScience, December 2013

More Information about this project's research, participants and publications


This work was supported by the National Center for Ecological Analysis and Synthesis, a Center funded by NSF (Grant #EF-0553768), the University of California, Santa Barbara, and the State of California.


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Posted on December 9, 2013