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The challenge: Understanding relationships between biodiversity and ecosystem functioning and services

Recent research demonstrates that loss of biodiversity can impact the functioning of both natural and managed ecosystems. These results raise concerns about the capacity of impoverished ecosystems to deliver ecological goods and services, which are essential to human well-being. Yet many of the processes that underlie the delivery of ecosystem goods and services remain poorly understood or undervalued.

ecoSERVICES Science Plan

Prof. Charles Perrings, Arizona State University, USA
Dr. Andy Hector, University of Zürich, Switzerland
Co-chairs, ecoSERVICES Core Project
Scientific Committee Members


Photo: Butterfly and flowers   Photo: Forest fungus   Photo: Borneo Nursery

© G. Reynolds

DIVERSITAS’ response

With a particular focus on the relationship between biodiversity and ecosystem functioning (BEF), ecoSERVICES seeks to establish a robust understanding of the ecological, economic and cultural consequences of biodiversity loss and change.

The three Foci of this Core Project serve as a link between bioDISCOVERY, which aims to improve our basic understanding of Earth’s natural resources, and bioSUSTAINABILITY, the goal of which is to encourage sustainable use of biodiversity.


Focus 1

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Biodiversity and ecosystem functioning (BEF) - As a critical first step, Focus 1 will expand science in this area to larger scales (temporal and spatial) and over a greater breadth of the biological hierarchy.


  • spatial scale and biodiversity-ecosystem functioning relationships
  • temporal scale and biodiversity-ecosystem functioning relationships
  • biodiversity change in complex systems
  • microbial biodiversity and ecosystem functioning
  • biodiversity and biogeochemical cycles
  • second generation biodiversity-ecosystem functioning research

Focus 2

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Linking ecosystem functioning to the provision of services - There is increasing evidence that changes in ecosystem structure and functioning (e.g. predation, productivity, carbon sequestration) lead to changes in ecosystem goods and services (e.g. soil fertility, greenhouse gas regulation), many of which are relevant to human well-being. Better understanding of these links is important on several levels.


  • experimental research on the links between ecosystem functioning and ecosystem services
  • ecosystem services and environmental public goods
  • biodiversity, resilience and the value of ecosystem services
  • development of predictive models of the impacts of biodiversity change on ecosystem services

Focus 3

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Human responses to changes in ecosystem services - Humans trigger biodiversity loss and affect the quantity and quality of ecosystem services. When changes occur, humans adapt by adopting new behaviours. Better understanding of these responses, as well as the associated costs/benefits and losses of efficiency or equity, is a critical component of the ecoSERVICES portfolio and provides a logical link to the bioSUSTAINABILITY Core Project.


  • services sustainability, local response and the single service case
  • local response and multiple services
  • predicting changes in ecosystem services and public environmental goods


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ecoSERVICES and BioMERGE joint meeting
1-4 December 2006, Monte Veritas, Switzerland
The meeting is organised by Shahid Naeem, Dan Bunker with Andy Hector and Michel Loreau from ecoSERVICES and DIVERSITAS. The organisers plan an edited volume to follow in the footsteps of Biodiversity and ecosystem functioning: synthesis and perspectives. (2002) edited by Loreau, Naeem, & Inchausti. The new book will review the progress made in the last five years in the biodiversity and ecosystem functioning area.

Colonization versus invasion: do the same traits matter?
25 February 2 March 2007, Monte Verit, Switzerland
Towards a joint perspective in research on range expansion of native and biological invasion of non-indigenous plants The conference is organised by:
Dr. Jasmin Joshi and Prof. Bernhard Schmid (Institute of Environmental Sciences, University of Zurich),
Dr. Regula Billeter and Prof. Peter Edwards (Institute of Integrative Biology of the ETH, Zurich)
Dr. Dana Blumenthal, USDA-ARS Rangeland Resources Research Unit, Fort Collins, USA
ecoSERVICES will be represented by Andy Hector.
More information:

Past Events

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8th International BIOECON Conference on the Economic Analysis of Ecology and Biodiversity
29-30 August 2006 at Kings College, Cambridge, UK
Hosted by the Department of Land Economy of the University of Cambridge and the International Food Policy Research Institute in association with DIVERSITAS and the UK Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs. Click here for an overview of DIVERSITAS´ involvement in the conference.

BioMERGE Workshop
1-4 September 2005, Borneo, Malaysia
Adaptive Synthesis Workshop III: "Biodiversity and Ecosystem Functioning - Cross Biome Syntheses"

Effects of biodiversity on the functioning of trophic groups and ecosystems
(Bradley J.Cardinale, Diane S. Srivastava, J. Emmett Duffy, Justin P. Wright, Amy L. Downing, Mahesh Sankaran and Claire Jouseau)

Next Generation of Biodiversity Research
4-6 September 2005, Kota Kinabalu, Borneo, Malaysia
Organised Meeting by DIVERSITAS ecoSERVICES
Contact: Co-Chair, Prof. Dr. Andy Hector, University of Zurich, Switzerland

Biodiversity and Carbon storage
7-10 September 2005, Danum, Borneo, Malaysia
Organised Meeting by DIVERSITAS ecoSERVICES
Contact: Co-Chair, Prof. Dr. Andy Hector, University of Zurich, Switzerland

7th International BIOECON Conference on “Economics and the Analysis of Ecology and Biodiversity
Meeting co-organised by DIVERSITAS ecoSERVICES
20-21 September 2005, Cambridge, United Kingdom
Contact: co-chair Erwin Bulte, Department of Economics, Tilburg University, The Netherlands

6th BIOECON annual meeting
September 2-3, Cambridge, United Kingdom
Meeting organised by Tim Swanson and DIVERSITAS ecoSERVICES
Contact: co-chair Erwin Bulte, Department of Economics, Tilburg University, The Netherlands

Integrated Modeling of Economies and Ecosystems
November 3-5, 2004, Paris, France
Meeting organised by John Tschirhart and DIVERSITAS ecoSERVICES
Contact: co-chair Erwin Bulte, Department of Economics, Tilburg University, The Netherlands

There is an urgent need to better understand the relationship between economies and ecological systems. Some scientists believe that the extent to which economies can draw upon ecological systems has already reached its limits, and that depleted ecosystems are having negative impacts on living standards. Predicting ecosystem resource limits and societal impacts requires a better understanding of the numerous variables in the two systems which are jointly determined: policies directed toward economic activity impact ecosystems, and policies directed toward ecosystems invariably impact economic activity. Unfortunately, economists, ecologists and decision-makers have very incomplete knowledge about the reciprocity; therefore, they cannot reasonably determine how economic welfare will be affected by poorly understood ecosystem impacts.
This DIVERSITAS workshop aimed to contribute to the understanding of crucial relationships in this field, and present alternative state-of-the-art approaches to modeling ecosystem-economy interaction.

Integrated Modeling of Economies and Ecosystems - Introductory chapter to the special issue of Natural Resource Modeling (John Tschirhart)

Last updated: 17 January 2007

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