Ecosystem services

  • Article
    | Open Access

    Nearly one-third of the global coastline is vegetated. Incorporating these vegetation belts in coastal protection strategies would result in more sustainable and financially-attractive designs to mitigate the impacts of extreme coastal storms.

    • Vincent T. M. van Zelst
    • , Jasper T. Dijkstra
    •  & Mindert B. de Vries
  • Article
    | Open Access

    Invasive species could have cascading effects on ecosystem functioning. Here the authors use experimental and remote sensing data and modelling to show that an invasive mammal causes loss of facilitative interactions between sessile ecosystem engineers in salt marshes, and lower ecosystem resilience to disturbance.

    • Marc J. S. Hensel
    • , Brian R. Silliman
    •  & Jarrett E. K. Byrnes
  • Article
    | Open Access

    There is much uncertainty on use and impact of pesticides in organic agriculture. Here, the authors compare pesticide use in conventionally and organically managed fields in Kern County (US), finding that organic fields are less likely to be treated but, when they are, they receive similar pesticide amount as the conventional fields.

    • Ashley E. Larsen
    • , L. Claire Powers
    •  & Sofie McComb
  • Article
    | Open Access

    Responses of ecosystem services to species losses are highly context-dependent. Here, the authors develop a model to identify general rules in the robustness of ecosystem service supply to species losses, and demonstrate its applicability using real-world ecosystem service networks.

    • Samuel R. P.-J. Ross
    • , Jean-François Arnoldi
    •  & Ian Donohue
  • Article
    | Open Access

    Ambitious global targets exist for mangrove restoration. A meta-analysis reveals how mangrove restoration provides higher ecosystem benefits over unvegetated tidal flats, while generally lower than natural mangroves. Restoration outcomes, however, depend on restoration age, species and method.

    • Jie Su
    • , Daniel A. Friess
    •  & Alexandros Gasparatos
  • Article
    | Open Access

    Forests can influence climate by affecting low cloud formation, but where and when this occurs is not well known. Here, the authors provide a global-scale assessment, based on satellite remote sensing observations, suggesting afforestation mostly increases low cloud cover which could potentially cool surface temperatures.

    • Gregory Duveiller
    • , Federico Filipponi
    •  & Alessandro Cescatti
  • Article
    | Open Access

    Conserving mangrove biodiversity has numerous co-benefits, including climate change-mitigation. Here the authors demonstrate that blue carbon storage in mangroves can be best sustained by combining site-specific dominant species with other species with contrasting functional traits.

    • Md Mizanur Rahman
    • , Martin Zimmer
    •  & Ming Xu
  • Article
    | Open Access

    Food web responses to species losses have the potential to cascade to ecosystem services. Here the authors apply ecological network robustness modelling to ecosystem services in salt marsh ecosystems, finding that species with supporting roles are critical to robustness of both food webs and ecosystem services.

    • Aislyn A. Keyes
    • , John P. McLaughlin
    •  & Laura E. Dee
  • Article
    | Open Access

    Tree mortality is increasing with climate change, which suggests that the biomass of dead wood is likely becoming more and more important to the global carbon cycle. Here, the authors perform a meta-analysis of the carbon content of dead wood and find that past estimates of total forest carbon were overestimated.

    • Adam R. Martin
    • , Grant M. Domke
    •  & Sean C. Thomas
  • Article
    | Open Access

    Eutrophication has been shown to weaken diversity-stability relationships in grasslands, but it is unclear whether the effect depends on scale. Analysing a globally distributed network of grassland sites, the authors show a positive role of beta diversity and spatial asynchrony as drivers of stability but find that nitrogen enrichment weakens the diversity-stability relationships at different spatial scales.

    • Yann Hautier
    • , Pengfei Zhang
    •  & Shaopeng Wang
  • Article
    | Open Access

    Soil age is thought to be an important driver of ecosystem development. Here, the authors perform a global survey of soil chronosequences and meta-analysis to show that, contrary to expectations, soil age is a relatively minor ecosystem driver at the biome scale once other drivers such as parent material, climate, and vegetation type are accounted for.

    • Manuel Delgado-Baquerizo
    • , Peter B. Reich
    •  & Noah Fierer
  • Article
    | Open Access

    The average body size of salmon has declined rapidly over recent decades. Here the authors quantify changes in body size distributions for Pacific salmon in Alaska and examine the causes and consequences of size declines for ecosystems, food security, and commercial fisheries.

    • K. B. Oke
    • , C. J. Cunningham
    •  & E. P. Palkovacs
  • Article
    | Open Access

    An insufficient amount of pollen transfer by pollinators (pollen limitation) could reduce plant reproduction in human-impacted landscapes. Here the authors conduct a global meta-analysis and find that pollen limitation is high in urban environments and depends of plant traits such as pollinator dependency.

    • Joanne M. Bennett
    • , Janette A. Steets
    •  & Tia-Lynn Ashman
  • Article
    | Open Access

    Lake fisheries are vulnerable to environmental changes. Here, Kao et al. develop a Bayesian networks model to analyze time-series data from 31 major fisheries lake across five continents, showing that fish catches can respond either positively or negatively to climate and land-use changes.

    • Yu-Chun Kao
    • , Mark W. Rogers
    •  & Joelle D. Young
  • Article
    | Open Access

    Numerous marine ecosystem models are used to project animal biomass over time but integrating them can be challenging. Here the authors develop a test for statistical significance in multi-model ensemble trends, and thus relate future biomass trends to current patterns of ecological and socioeconomic status.

    • Daniel G. Boyce
    • , Heike K. Lotze
    •  & Boris Worm
  • Article
    | Open Access

    Countries are adopting ecological compensation policies aimed at achieving no net loss of biodiversity and ecosystem services. Here, Sonter and colleagues apply spatial simulation models to case studies in Australia, Brazil, Indonesia, and Mozambique to show that compensation alone is not sufficient to preserve biodiversity.

    • Laura J. Sonter
    • , Jeremy S. Simmonds
    •  & Martine Maron
  • Article
    | Open Access

    Higher plant diversity in agricultural settings is often associated with lower biomass yield and with lower forage quality. Here, Schaub et al. show positive effects of plant diversity on biomass yield, quality-adjusted yield and revenues in semi-natural grassland across a range of management intensities.

    • Sergei Schaub
    • , Robert Finger
    •  & Michael Scherer-Lorenzen
  • Article
    | Open Access

    Pollinators can persist in urban areas despite little natural habitat. Here the authors compare insect pollinators and pollination inside and outside of German cities, showing that urban areas have high diversity of bees but not other insects, and high pollination provisioning, relative to rural sites.

    • Panagiotis Theodorou
    • , Rita Radzevičiūtė
    •  & Robert J. Paxton
  • Article
    | Open Access

    Wetlands are global hotspots of carbon storage, but errors exist with current estimates of the extent of their carbon density. Here the authors show that mangrove sediment organic carbon stock has previously been overestimated, while ecosystem carbon stock has been underestimated.

    • Xiaoguang Ouyang
    •  & Shing Yip Lee
  • Article
    | Open Access

    Forest management may play an important role in climate change mitigation. Here, Tong et al. combine remote sensing and machine learning modelling to map forest cover dynamics in southern China during 2002–2017, showing effects on carbon sequestration that are extensive but of uncertain longevity and possible negative impact on soil water.

    • Xiaowei Tong
    • , Martin Brandt
    •  & Rasmus Fensholt
  • Review Article
    | Open Access

    Swarms of crustaceans called krill dominate Antarctic ecosystems, yet their influence on biogeochemical cycles remains a mystery. Here Cavan and colleagues review the role of krill in the Southern Ocean, and the impact of the krill fishery on ocean fertilisation and the carbon sink.

    • E. L. Cavan
    • , A. Belcher
    •  & P. W. Boyd
  • Article
    | Open Access

    The defaunation of vertebrates may disrupt forest functioning through the loss of plant-animal interactions, but impacts on forests remain unquantified. Here the authors show that seed dispersal is a key interaction and defaunation of primates and birds negatively impacts forest regeneration.

    • Charlie J. Gardner
    • , Jake E. Bicknell
    •  & Zoe G. Davies
  • Article
    | Open Access

    Fertilization under greenhouse warming conditions is expected to accelerate tree growth and potentially increase the biological storage of CO2. Here the authors analyse ring width measurements from 1768 conifers from the Spanish and Russian mountains and demonstrate that longevity requires slow growth rates at least in mountainous regions.

    • Ulf Büntgen
    • , Paul J. Krusic
    •  & Christian Körner
  • Article
    | Open Access

    Pollinator loss is a concern but data on their status is lacking. Here Powney et al. use occupancy modelling to estimate the degree of loss in wild bee and hoverfly species across Great Britain, and report a 55% decline in upland species and a 12% increase in dominant crop pollinators.

    • Gary D. Powney
    • , Claire Carvell
    •  & Nick J. B. Isaac
  • Article
    | Open Access

    Managing forests for the supply of multiple ecosystem services (ES) is key given potential trade-offs among services. Here, the authors analyse how forest stand attributes generate trade-offs among ES and the relative contribution of forest attributes and environmental factors to predict services.

    • María R. Felipe-Lucia
    • , Santiago Soliveres
    •  & Eric Allan
  • Article
    | Open Access

    Biodiversity change can impact ecosystem functioning, though this is primarily studied at lower trophic levels. Here, Schuldt et al. find that biodiversity components other than tree species richness are particularly important, and higher trophic level diversity plays a role in multifunctionality.

    • Andreas Schuldt
    • , Thorsten Assmann
    •  & Helge Bruelheide
  • Article
    | Open Access

    Rainforest conversion to plantations driven by global demand for agricultural products generates high environmental costs. Here, the authors show that the high oil palm plantation production efficiency is associated with decreased carbon storage and slower organic matter cycling that affect ecosystem services.

    • Thomas Guillaume
    • , Martyna M. Kotowska
    •  & Yakov Kuzyakov
  • Article
    | Open Access

    Woody plant encroachment has important implications for habitat conservation and global carbon budgets, but its drivers require quantification. Here, Venter et al. report that encroachment is predominantly driven by human activities, changing weather conditions, fire, and herbivory.

    • Z. S. Venter
    • , M. D. Cramer
    •  & H.-J. Hawkins
  • Article
    | Open Access

    Marine spatial planning is used to co-ordinate multiple ocean uses, and is frequently informed by tradeoffs and composite metrics. Here, Lester et al. introduce an approach that plans for multiple uses simultaneously whilst balancing individual objectives, using a case study of aquaculture development in California.

    • S. E. Lester
    • , J. M. Stevens
    •  & C. White
  • Article
    | Open Access

    Economies dependent on natural resources could gain resilience to abrupt ecosystem and market shifts through proactive risk-buffering approaches. Using data from Alaskan fisheries, Clineet al. show that communities relying on diverse fisheries were more resilient to major ocean and market regime shifts in 1989.

    • Timothy J. Cline
    • , Daniel E. Schindler
    •  & Ray Hilborn
  • Article
    | Open Access

    An ongoing elephant poaching crisis is threatening not only elephant populations but also the local economies that rely on nature-based tourism. Here, Naidoo and colleagues use an economic model to estimate the financial contribution of elephants to tourism and the possible consequences of their loss.

    • Robin Naidoo
    • , Brendan Fisher
    •  & Andrew Balmford
  • Article
    | Open Access

    Biodiversity can enhance ecosystem services such as crop pollination. Here, Ricketts et al. synthesize 14 years of literature to show that biodiversity-ecosystem services relationships depend on the service, how services and biodiversity are each measured, and the approach used to link them.

    • Taylor H. Ricketts
    • , Keri B. Watson
    •  & Laura J. Sonter
  • Article |

    Species interactions are known to promote biodiversity and ecosystem stability. Here, the authors assess the effect of habitat alteration on a species network that considers multiple interaction types, and find that plants mediate the response of pollinators and seed dispersers to habitat degradation.

    • Jörg Albrecht
    • , Dana Gertrud Berens
    •  & Nina Farwig
  • Article
    | Open Access

    Coral reef health is declining globally and is projected to lead to net loss of reef structure. This study shows that ecological change across the Caribbean has reduced reef growth rates to levels lower than those measured over the last ~8,000 years, threatening the ability of reefs to keep pace with future sea-level rise.

    • Chris T. Perry
    • , Gary N. Murphy
    •  & Peter J. Mumby
  • Article
    | Open Access

    Tree diversity is thought to benefit forest ecosystems, but evidence from large-scale studies is scarce. This study of a 400,000 km2forest area shows that higher tree species richness supports higher levels of multiple ecosystem services, and therefore also a more sustainable management of production forests.

    • Lars Gamfeldt
    • , Tord Snäll
    •  & Jan Bengtsson
  • Article
    | Open Access

    The presence of earthworms is known to enhance the quality and moisture of soil in cool and wet climates. Evanset al. show that termites and ants can improve soil quality in warmer and drier climates—their presence results in elevated water infiltration and nitrogen content, leading to increased wheat yields.

    • Theodore A. Evans
    • , Tracy Z. Dawes
    •  & Nathan Lo