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National Center for Ecological Analysis and Synthesis

Project Description

The delineation of biodiversity hotspots that protect as many species as possible with as little land as possible has been the dominant paradigm in conservation science. Recently, however, this paradigm has been challenged on two accounts. The first challenge is that the burgeoning human population will make it impossible to adequately secure biodiversity in "protected areas", and that instead we must turn to working landscapes with substantial human use as places of biodiversity value. Second, with so much of the world impoverished, there is a need for land management that first and foremost ensures that basic natural services (or "ecosystem services") are provided to people. We intend to explore the spatial congruence between ecosystem services and biodiversity at multiple spatial scales, and in so doing ask to what extent the provision of ecosystem services and biodiversity protection can be aligned, and what are the tradeoffs where they are not aligned?

This will be much more than a simple mapping exercise because it will be important to extend methods of ecosystem valuation to services and levels of detail that have been lacking thus far in the literature. Most existing maps of ecosystem services simply categorize each land area as a habitat type, and then assign to that habitat type some "generalized dollar value". In contrast we seek to create a spatially explicit accounting of biodiversity targets and ecosystems services, along with a consideration of who benefits from the services, and who might be expected to pay for them and how.

Our purpose is not to replace the goal of biodiversity protection with the goal of ecosystem service protection. Rather we seek to understand if and how the two goals might both be met, as well as how to minimize tradeoffs between the two goals where biodiversity and services are not strongly correlated. In addition to doing the spatial analyses of services and biodiversity, we will explore financial mechanisms that might help pay for the services.

Our working group will start with a mapping and valuation exercise entailing the Upper Yangtze River in China because of the many critical resource decisions this biodiversity rich region is currently facing. We will then extend our analyses to other systems, as well as different spatial scales. Our working group will be fluid with membership varying depending on the systems and analyses under discussion; however the two hallmarks of this effort are its mix of on-the-ground conservation experience from international conservation NGO's and academic scholars, including economists, ecologists and conservation planners.

Principal Investigator(s)

Peter Kareiva, Gretchen Daily, Stephen Polasky, Taylor Ricketts

Project Dates

Start: September 26, 2005

End: April 11, 2008



Wiktor L. Adamowicz
University of Alberta
Paul R. Armsworth
University of Sheffield
Juliann E. Aukema
University of California, Santa Barbara
Andrew Balmford
University of Cambridge
Kate Brauman
Stanford University
Neil Burgess
D. Richard Cameron
Jeffrey Camm
University of Cincinnati
Kai M.A. Chan
University of British Columbia
Richard M. Cowling
University of Port Elizabeth
Gretchen Daily
Stanford University
Holly Davis
The Nature Conservancy
Tom Dillon
World Wildlife Fund
Andy Drumm
The Nature Conservancy
Qun Du
The Nature Conservancy
William F. Fagan
University of Maryland, College Park
Kathleen Farley
The Nature Conservancy
Jixi Gao
Chinese Research Academy of Environment Sciences
Emma E. Goldberg
University of California, San Diego
Joshua Goldstein
Stanford University
Michael Heiner
The Nature Conservancy
David Hulse
John D. and Catherine T. MacArthur Foundation
Peter Kareiva
The Nature Conservancy
Claire Kremen
University of California, Berkeley
Russell Lande
University of California, San Diego
Bernhard Lehner
World Wildlife Fund
Li Lifeng
World Wildlife Fund, China
Jack Liu
Michigan State University
Eric Lonsdorf
Lincoln Park Zoo
Heike K. Lotze
Dalhousie University
Guillermo Mendoza
Belinda Morris
Pantaleo Munishi
Sokoine University of Agriculture
William W. Murdoch
University of California, Santa Barbara
Robin Naidoo
World Wildlife Fund
Erik Nelson
University of Minnesota, Twin Cities
Stephen Polasky
University of Minnesota, Twin Cities
Ye Qi
The Nature Conservancy
James Regetz
University of California, Santa Barbara
Taylor Ricketts
World Wildlife Fund
Matthieu Rouget
University of Cambridge
James N. Sanchirico
Resources for the Future
M. Rebecca Shaw
Stanford University
Andrew Solow
Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution
Heather Tallis
Stanford University
Christine Tam
Stanford University
Barton H. Thompson
Stanford University
Paul West
University of Wisconsin
Sue White
Cranfield University
Bart Wickel
World Wildlife Fund
Boris Worm
Dalhousie University


  1. Journal Article / 2009

    Modeling multiple ecosystem services, biodiversity conservation, commodity production, and tradeoffs at landscape scales