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  • It is widely perceived how research institutes have been adopting the discourse of champions of diversity, inclusion, and equity (DEI) in recent years. Despite progress in diversity and inclusion in the academic environment, we highlight here that nothing or, at very best, little work has been done to overcome the scientific labor division in academic research that promotes neocolonial practices in academic recognition and jeopardizes equity. In this piece, we bring secondary data that reinforce biased patterns in academic recognition between Global North and South (geographical markers and citation bias), and propose three actions that should be adopted by researchers, research institutes, journals, and scientific societies from the Global North that allows for a fairer recognition of the academic expertise produced by the Global South.

    • Gabriel Nakamura
    • Bruno Eleres Soares
    • Leandro Duarte
    CommentOpen Access
  • A key question in ecological research is whether biodiversity is important for ecosystem functioning. After approximately three decades of empirical studies on this topic, it is clear that biodiversity promotes the magnitude and stability of ecosystem functioning. However, the majority of early biodiversity-ecosystem functioning (BEF) experiments concluded that there is a saturating relationship between biodiversity and ecosystem functioning, seemingly supporting the ‘redundancy hypothesis’ of biodiversity. This hypothesis may suggest that many species can be lost from an ecosystem before any changes in functioning can be detected under the current environmental conditions. Here, we argue that the term functional redundancy (1) may have been overused from an ecological perspective and (2) can be dangerous and misleading in scientific communication. Rather, we propose to use the term ‘functional similarity’, which better highlights the unique contributions of all coexisting species to ecosystem functioning, gradients in niche overlap and has a less negative connotation. In a world where increasing anthropogenic stressors are accelerating biodiversity change and loss and thus threatening ecosystem integrity, important political and societal decisions must be taken to combat the joint climate and biodiversity crisis. We should therefore reconsider and carefully choose terminology in biodiversity science for value-neutral communication.

    • Nico Eisenhauer
    • Jes Hines
    • Matthias C. Rillig
    CommentOpen Access
  • Designing restoration projects requires integrating socio-economic and cultural needs of local stakeholders for enduring and just outcomes. Using India as a case study, we demonstrate a people-centric approach to help policymakers translate global restoration prioritization studies for application to a country-specific context and to identify different socio-environmental conditions restoration programs could consider when siting projects. Focusing, in particular, on poverty quantified by living standards and land tenure, we find that of the 579 districts considered here, 116 of the poorest districts have high biophysical restoration potential (upper 50th percentile of both factors). In most districts, the predominant land tenure is private, indicating an opportunity to focus on agri-pastoral restoration over carbon and forest-based restoration projects.

    • Pooja Choksi
    • Arun Agrawal
    • Ruth DeFries
    CommentOpen Access
  • Expansive farmlands in Europe and elsewhere are either already abandoned or projected to become abandoned. Afforestation on these abandoned farmlands is highly popular, but it only addresses the climate crisis, not the biodiversity emergency. An alternative to afforestation is rewilding, which would contribute to combating both the biodiversity and climate crises while also facilitating socio-ecological sustainability by increasing ecosystem resilience.

    • Lanhui Wang
    • Pil Birkefeldt Møller Pedersen
    • Jens-Christian Svenning
    CommentOpen Access
  • The astronomical number of individual microorganisms that exist on Earth provides an immeasurable trove from which potential microbial-based solutions can be drawn upon to drive the development of sustainable industries. However, there is little information documenting the spectrum of global microbial biodiversity and how human activity has impacted the taxonomic and functional diversity of microbial communities. Here, we discuss how promoting microbial innovation can encourage environmental, social, and corporate governance investments towards protecting global biodiversity for all life whilst meeting the 2030 United Nations Sustainable Development Goals.

    • Paton Vuong
    • Sandy Chong
    • Parwinder Kaur
    CommentOpen Access