Call for Expression of Interest for biodiversity data-related scientific projects from BiCIKL

The purpose of this call is to solicit, select and implement four to six biodiversity data-related scientific projects that will make use of the added value services developed by the leading Research Infrastructures that make the BiCIKL project.

The BiCIKL project invites submissions of Expression of Interest (EoI) to the First BiCIKL Open Call for projects. The purpose of this call is to solicit, select and implement four to six biodiversity data-related scientific projects that will make use of the added value services developed by the leading Research Infrastructures that make the BiCIKL project.

By opening this call, BiCIKL aims to better understand how it could support scientific questions that arise from across the biodiversity world in the future, while addressing specific scientific or technical biodiversity data challenges presented by the applicants.

We need and want to assess real-world problems and make the best possible use of our data and technical capabilities. This will greatly assist in defining the long-term development goals of the participating Research Infrastructures and improve the way they can technically and operationally work together to deliver greater scientific value.

explain the project partners.

The BiCIKL project – a Horizon 2020-funded project involving 14 European institutions, representing major global players in biodiversity research and natural history, and coordinated by Pensoft – establishes a European starting community of key research infrastructures, researchers, citizen scientists and other biodiversity and life sciences stakeholders based on open science practices through access to data, tools and services.

Find more about the Call and submit your Expression of Interest

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One Ecosystem calls for papers that report ecosystem accounts

To help implement ecosystem accounts, the One Ecosystem journal provides a platform for scientists and statisticians to publish newly compiled accounting tables.

In March 2021, the UN Statistical Commission adopted the System of Environmental-Economic Accounting Ecosystem Accounting (SEEA EA).

SEEA EA is a spatially-based, integrated statistical framework for organising biophysical information about ecosystems, measuring ecosystem services, tracking changes in ecosystem extent and condition, valuing ecosystem services and assets and linking this information to measures of economic and human activity. 

To help implement ecosystem accounts, the One Ecosystem journal provides a platform for scientists and statisticians to publish newly compiled accounting tables. 

The “Ecosystem Accounts” permanent collection welcomes articles that describe and report ecosystem accounting tables, compiled following the standards set by the SEEA EA. The current version of the framework is fully described in United Nations et al. (2021). System of Environmental-Economic Accounting—Ecosystem Accounting (SEEA EA), available as a white cover publication, pre-edited text subject to official editing at: https://seea.un.org/ecosystem-accounting.

This collection does not accept research papers on ecosystem accounting that solely report new developments on accounting methods, such as new models for ecosystem services, new indicators for ecosystem condition or new techniques for monetary valuation of ecosystems. 

The inclusion of a compiled ecosystem accounting table is mandatory for this collection. Otherwise, papers will be diverted to the regular issue of One Ecosystem. In such cases, the authors may also choose to submit their contributions to another topical collection. 

Detailed instructions for authors

Submitting authors need to select One Ecosystem as a journal and “Ecosystem Accounting table” as an article template in ARPHA Writing Tool

Submissions to this collection shall respect the following requirements:

Introduction:

  • The introduction makes clear reference to the type (or types) of account(s) submitted, the accounting area, and the accounting period. The introduction should contain a clear reference to the SEEA EA. 
  • The following accounting tables can be published with data referring to a specific accounting area and for a given accounting period:
  • Ecosystem extent account – physical terms: Total extent of area of one or more ecosystem types 
  • Ecosystem condition account – physical terms: (Aggregated) data on selected ecosystem characteristics and optionally the distance from a reference condition.
  • Ecosystem services flow account – physical terms: Physical supply of final ecosystem services by ecosystem assets and the use of those services by economic units.
  • Ecosystem services flow account – monetary terms: The monetary estimate of final ecosystem services by ecosystem assets and the use of those services by economic units.
  • Monetary ecosystem asset account – monetary terms: Stocks and changes in stocks (additions and reductions) of ecosystem assets in monetary terms.

Data and methods

  • This section describes which typologies or classifications have been used to classify ecosystems, ecosystem condition indicators, ecosystem services, or economic sectors. Preference should be given to different typologies proposed by SEEA EA, but deviations or other typologies are acceptable as well. 
  • The section provides a list of all ecosystem types, variables, indicators, or economic sectors used in the accounting tables and it provides references to the data sources used to quantify them. 
  • Optionally, papers justify the use of variables and indicators making reference to specific selection criteria. 
  • For ecosystem service accounts, this section describes or refers to the methods used to quantify ecosystem services.
  • For monetary accounts, this section describes or refers to the methods used to assign monetary values to ecosystem services.
  • The use of supplementary materials is recommended in case the description of data and methods is too long. In that case, this section contains a summary of the data and methods. 

Accounting tables and results

  • This section presents the accounting table(s). Ideally, this section presents the most aggregated version of the accounting table(s), while detailed versions with a high number of rows and columns can be easily published as a spreadsheet in the supplement section of the paper.
  • Stylised versions of accounting tables are available in the SEEA EA guidelines. A stylized example for each ecosystem accounting table is available in MS Excel. It is highly recommended to follow these examples to the maximum possible extent. 
  • Graphs or maps that illustrate the accounting tables or that provide key results used to compile the accounting table can be published as well in this section. 

Discussion 

In this section, authors are invited to add at least one of the following topics:

  • A short interpretation of the results: are the reported data comparable to other published data on ecosystem extent, condition or services or do they deviate substantially. 
  • Critique or comments on the SEEA EA framework. Identify issues with application of the framework. Highlight areas for improvement or further research.
  • Demonstration of how the accounts have been or can be used to support policy and decision making or implementation. Particular cases of interest are (however, not restricted to) agricultural, forestry, fishery and biodiversity policies, biodiversity and ecosystem monitoring and reporting, ecosystem restoration projects, demonstrating values of ecosystems, or environmental impact assessments.

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Green backyards help increase urban climate resilience: Here is how

New study evaluates the effects of greenery on thermal comfort, biodiversity, carbon storage and social interactions.

Green spaces in cities have a number of positive effects: they’re good for our physical and mental health, they’re good for the environment, and they can even help fight off the effects of climate change.

To explore the impact of additional green structures in cities, Katja Schmidt and Ariane Walz, affiliated with the University of Potsdam, Germany, quantified their effects on different aspects such as thermal comfort, biodiversity, carbon storage and social interaction. Their study, published in the open-access, peer-reviewed journal One Ecosystem, combines knowledge from health research, ecology and socio-ecological research, and shows how the better we know a particular type of ecosystem, the better we can adapt to climate change.

Green residential courtyards in Potsdam. Photo by Jan Michalko, University of Potsdam

Pursuing a multi-method approach that ranged from local climate measurements to habitat and tree mapping, the authors compared four green residential courtyards in Potsdam. The spaces were similarly built, but had different ratios and sizes of features (lawns, flowerbeds, paths, playgrounds and allotments), as well as different tree and shrub population. 

While doing their research, Schmidt and Walz saw how even small differences in the green structure affect the provision of benefits, but one thing was clear: the greener courtyards yielded more benefits. Trees have the vital ability to cool down the environment and increase thermal comfort. Remarkably, the researchers report additional cooling effects of up to 11°C in the greener court yards. This means that residential green structures can prove of great value for human health during summertime heat, when asphalt and buildings make hot days even hotter. Considering the ageing demographic and the likely increase of heatwaves in the area, this is likely to have even greater health implications in the coming years. 

Microclimatic measurements in residential courtyards. Photo by Tobias Hopfgarten, University of Potsdam

Urban green spaces can also be an important factor in carbon storage, as urban soils and trees have the capacity to act as a sink for atmospheric carbon dioxide. The residential yards with more and larger trees, logically, have the power to store more carbon. This is where proper maintenance comes in: when yards are managed sustainably, trees live longer and can store more carbon.

“Considering the trend of increasing quantity and magnitude of extreme weather events and the vulnerability of urban areas, green spaces are known to provide great potential to increase urban climate resilience. Our work highlights the widespread positive effects of additional green structures in residential open spaces, a type of urban green space that is frequently understudied,” points out Dr. Schmidt.

As a conclusion, the researchers point out that if land owners and leaseholders receive incentives to commit to climate adaptation, and neighbourhoods come up with deliberate management strategies, these benefits could be further enhanced, contributing to a more sustainable urban development.

Research article:

Schmidt K, Walz A (2021) Ecosystem-based adaptation to climate change through residential urban green structures: co-benefits to thermal comfort, biodiversity, carbon storage and social interaction. One Ecosystem 6: e65706. https://doi.org/10.3897/oneeco.6.e65706

An invasive plant may cost a Caribbean island 576,704 dollars per year

Guest blog post by Wendy Jesse

Coralita overgrowing vegetation. Photo from https://www.wur.nl/en/show/invasive-plants-in-caribbean-netherlands.htm

A recent study in One Ecosystem has estimated the severe loss of ecosystem service value as a result of the widespread invasion by the plant species Coralita (Antigonon leptopus) on the Caribbean island of St. Eustatius. The results illustrate the drastic impact that a single invader can have on the economy of a small island and inform policy makers about priority areas for invasive species management.

See for full article: Huisman, S., Jesse, W., Ellers, J., & van Beukering, P. (2021). Mapping the economic loss of ecosystem services caused by the invasive plant species Antigonon leptopus on the Dutch Caribbean Island of St. Eustatius. One Ecosystem6, e72881. https://doi.org/10.3897/oneeco.6.e72881

The invader: Coralita

Coralita is a fast-growing, climbing vine with beautiful pink or white flowers. Originally from Mexico, it was introduced as a popular garden plant to many Caribbean islands and around the world. Its fast-growing nature means that it can outcompete most native species for terrain, quickly becoming the dominant species and reducing overall diversity (Jesse et al. 2020, Nature Today 2020, Eppinga et al. 2021a). This is especially the case on St. Eustatius, where published ground surveys indicate that the plant already appears on 33 percent of the island.

Losses of ecosystem services

Coralita overgrowing cars. Photo by Rotem Zilber

We estimated the total terrestrial ecosystem service (ES) value on St. Eustatius to be $2.7 million per year by mapping five important terrestrial ecosystem services: Tourism, Carbon sequestration, Non-use (i.e., intrinsic biodiversity) value, Local recreational value, and Archeological value. Subsequently, we calculated Coralita-induced loss of ecosystem services under two realistic distributional scenarios of Coralita cover on the island: 3% of island dominantly covered (based on Haber et al. 2021, Nature Today 2021) and 36% dominant cover (if entire range would reach dominant coverage), causing an annual ES value loss of $39,804 and $576,704 respectively. The highest ES value (17,584 $/ha/year) as well as the most severe losses (3% scenario: 184 $/ha/year; 36% scenario: 1,257 $/ha/year) were located on the dormant Quill volcano; a highly biodiverse location with popular hiking trails for locals and tourists alike.

Consequences for policy makers and practitioners

Coralita blocking water a drainage channel. Photo by Wendy Jesse.

There is an urgent need for studies such as this one that help to bridge the gap between academia and policy planning, as these translate abstract numbers into intuitive information. Instead of invasive species being just a biological term, direct impacts on people’s value systems and sources of income immediately strike a chord. I experience this on a daily basis, because in addition to being a coauthor on this paper, I currently work as a policy employee in nature protection and management.

Coralita overgrowing archeological heritage on St. Eustatius. Photo from St. Eustatius Center for Archeological Research (SECAR)

This study helps to prioritize locations for invasive species prevention, management, eradication, and restoration. It is imperative that invasive species do not reach locations of high ecosystem service value. Management of isolated satellite patches of Coralita close to locations of high ES value will likely be most effective in halting the plant’s invasive spread (Eppinga et al. 2021b). Setting up a targeted monitoring and rapid response strategy, as well as legislation for biosecurity measures to prevent other invasive species from entering the island, would likely help to reduce impacts on the important ecosystem services on St. Eustatius.

References

Academic literature:

Eppinga, M. B., Haber, E. A., Sweeney, L., Santos, M. J., Rietkerk, M., & Wassen, M. J. (2021a). Antigonon leptopus invasion is associated with plant community disassembly in a Caribbean island ecosystem. Biological Invasions, 1-19.

Eppinga M, Baudena M, Haber E, Rietkerk M, Wassen M, Santos M (2021b) Spatially explicit removal strategies increase the efficiency of invasive plant species control.

Ecological Applications 31 (3): 1‑13. https://doi.org/10.1002/eap.2257Haber E, Santos M, Leitão P, Schwieder M, Ketner P, Ernst J, Rietkerk M, Wassen M, Eppinga M (2021) High spatial resolution mapping identifies habitat characteristics of the invasive vine Antigonon leptopuson St. Eustatius (Lesser Antilles). Biotropica 53 (3): 941‑953. https://doi.org/10.1111/btp.12939

Jesse, W. A., Molleman, J., Franken, O., Lammers, M., Berg, M. P., Behm, J. E., … & Ellers, J. (2020). Disentangling the effects of plant species invasion and urban development on arthropod community composition. Global change biology26(6), 3294-3306.

Blog posts on Nature Today website:

van Maanen, G. Molleman, J., Jesse, W.A.M. (2020) Drastic effects of coralita on the biodiversity of insects and spiders. Nature Today. naturetoday.com/intl/en/nature-reports/message/?msg=26339

Dutch Caribbean Nature Alliance (2021) Using satellite imagery to map St. Eustatius’ coralita invasion. Nature Today. naturetoday.com/intl/en/nature-reports/message/?msg=28317

Ten years of ecosystem services matrix: Review of a (r)evolution

In recent years, the concept of Ecosystem Services (ES): the benefits people obtain from ecosystems, such as pollination provided by bees for crop growing, timber provided by forests or recreation enabled by appealing landscapes, has been greatly popularised, especially in the context of impeding ecological crises and constantly degrading natural environments. 

Hence, there has been an increasing need for robust and practical methodologies to assess ES, in order to provide key stakeholders and decision-makers with crucial information. One such method to map and assess ES: the ES Matrix approach, has been increasingly used in the last decade.

The ES Matrix approach is based on the use of a lookup table consisting of geospatial units (e.g. types of ecosystems, habitats, land uses) and sets of ES, meant to be assessed for a specific study area, which means that the selection of a particular study area is the starting point in the assessment. Only then, suitable indicators and methods for ES quantification can be defined. Based on this information, a score for each of the ES considered is generated, referring to ES potential, ES supply, ES flow/use or demand for ES. 

Originally developed in a 2009 paper by a team, led by Prof Dr Benjamin Burkhard (Leibniz University Hannover and Leibniz Centre for Agricultural Landscape Research ZALF), the ES Matrix allows the assessment of the capacity of particular ecosystem types or geospatial units to provide ES.

Ten years later, a research led by Dr C. Sylvie Campagne (Leibniz University Hannover, Germany), Dr Philip Roche (INRAE, France), Prof Dr Felix Muller (University of Kiel, Germany) and Prof Dr Benjamin Burkhard conducted a review of 109 published studies applying the ES matrix approach to find out how the ES matrix approach was applied and whether this was done in an oversimplified way or not.

In their recent paper, published in the open-access, peer-reviewed journal One Ecosystem, the review confirms the method’s flexibility, appropriateness and utility for decision-making, as well as its ability to increase awareness of ES. Nevertheless, the ES matrix approach has often been used in a “quick and dirty” way that urges more transparency and integration of variability analyses, they conclude.

“We analysed the diversity of application contexts, highlighted trends of uses and proposed future recommendations for improved applications of the ES matrix. Amongst the main patterns observed, the ES matrix approach allows for the assessment of a higher number of ES than other ES assessment methods. ES can be jointly assessed with indicators for ecosystem condition and biodiversity in the ES matrix,”

explains Campagne.

“Although the ES matrix allows us to consider many data sources to achieve the assessment scores for the individual ES, these were mainly used together with expert-based scoring (73%) and/or ES scores that were based on an already-published ES matrix or deduced by information found in related scientific publications (51%),”

she elaborates. 

In 29% of the studies, an already existing matrix was used as an initial matrix for the assessment and in 16% no other data were used for the matrix scores or no adaptation of the existing matrix used was made. 

“Nevertheless, we recommend to use only scores assessed for a specific study or, if one wishes to use pre-existing scores from another study, to revise them in depth, taking into account the local context of the new assessment,”

she points out.

The researchers also acknowledge the fact that 27% of the reviewed studies did not clearly explain their methodology, which underlines the lack of method elucidation on how the data had been used and where the scores came from. Although some studies addressed the need to consider variabilities and uncertainties in ES assessments, only a minority of studies (15%) did so. Thus, the team also recommends to systematically report and consider variabilities and uncertainties in each ES assessment.

“We emphasise the need for all scientific studies to describe clearly and extensively the whole methodology used to score or evaluate ES, in order to be able to rate the quality of the scores obtained. The increasing number of studies that use the ES matrix approach confirms its success, appropriateness, flexibility and utility to generate information for decision-making, as well as its ability to increase awareness of ES, but the application of the ES matrix has to become more transparent and integrate more variability analyses,”

concludes the research team.

Original source:
Campagne CS, Roche P, Müller F, Burkhard B (2020) Ten years of ecosystem services matrix: Review of a (r)evolution. One Ecosystem 5: e51103. https://doi.org/10.3897/oneeco.5.e51103

Nature gem within the city: What grows in the biodiversity-rich Bukit Nanas Forest Reserve

Established as early as 1900, Bukit Nanas Forest Reserve (BNFR) is the oldest of its kind in Malaysia, offering a biodiversity- rich enclave, right in the middle of an ever-growing urban skyline in the capital city Kuala Lumpur.

Despite witnessing its territory reduced over time, from 17.5 to 9.37 ha, a team of scientists prove that Bukit Nanas Forest Reserve (now known as KL Forest Eco Park) still retains important biodiversity.

Making use of a specifically designed ‘Ecosystem Inventory’ article template in the innovative open access journal One Ecosystem, the team of scientists from Forest Research Institute Malaysia (FRIM) prove that although it’s lost almost half of its territories, when it comes to plant species the reserve retained most of its diversity.

During the new surveys conducted in April 2015 until May 2016, the authors recorded a total of 425 plant species still growing in BNFR territories, out of which 159 were new record species never collected from the area before. For comparison, the cumulative total of records from all previous surveys, the first ones starting as early as 1901, amounts to 499 species.

With its small area, BNFR surprises with rich flora, and it comes as no surprise that it has traditionally been the site used by many Forest Department officers as a place to study plants.

“This, alongside the important position of Bukit Nanas in Kuala Lumpur’s urban context, as a green lung in the bustling city, enriching its biodiversity, history, public recreation qualities and offering possibilities for scientific study and education, has prompted our surveys of the floristic richness of the reserve.” comment the authors.

The scientists were not disappointed by the park’s biodiversity, surprisingly still finding some enormous trees that appeared to be several hundred years old. The biggest of these is Ficus vasculosa, commonly known as ‘Ara’, with a diameter at breast height (dbh) of 124 cm.

From Henderson’s list, one of the very first, Tarrena rudis, an endemic species found only in Selangor, was recollected by the FRIM researchers, surprisingly still dwelling in BNFR after 87 years of its first record there.

In terms of endemic loss compared to previous surveys, however, 12 species could no longer be found on the territories anymore in BNFR.

“Bukit Nanas Forest Reserve can be still categorized as a forest with a good structure and diversity still holding a great variety of species.”explain the authors in conclusion. “The large loss of previously recorded endemics, however, raises concerns about the future of this reserve and calls for reconsideration of conservation measures.”

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Additional Information:

One Ecosystem is an innovative open access scholarly journal that goes beyond the conventional research article publication, open for submissions ranging across the entire research cycle, including: data, models, methods, workflows, results, software, perspectives, policy recommendations & more.

The journal offers a wide set of article templates, including domain-specific ones, such as Ecosystem services mapping, Ecological models or Environmental monitoring, allowing scientists to publish and get credit for their work at any stage of the research cycle.

For fresh updates from the journal, find us on Twitter @OneEcosystem

Original source:

Salleh N, Azeman S, Kiew R, Kamin I, Cheng Kong R (2017) Plant Checklist of the Bukit Nanas Forest Reserve, Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia. One Ecosystem 2: e13708. https://doi.org/10.3897/oneeco.2.e13708

What could be the importance of marine and coastal cultural ecosystem services

A detailed scientific literature review published in the open access journal One Ecosystem confirmed that research on marine and coastal cultural ecosystem services is scarce compared to other ecosystem service categories, revealing curious insights and identifying major knowledge gaps.

Available knowledge is not only primarily focused on local and regional sociocultural or economic assessments, but is also mostly coming from Western Europe and North America (USA and Canada). Largely underrepresented, the Global South has only a few studies in South America, Madagascar, and China. Remarkably, no marine and coastal cultural ecosystem services assessments were found in any country of the African continent.

“Such research bias narrows the understanding of social-ecological interactions to a western cultural setting, undermining the role of other worldviews in the understanding of a wide range of interactions between cultural practices and ecosystems worldwide” explain the study authors led by João Garcia Rodrigues.

In addition to this regional bias, the authors have identified clusters of co-occurring drivers of change affecting marine and coastal habitats and their cultural ecosystem services. Damming, land reclamation, tourism and industrial fishing were among the identified drivers of change.

The main knowledge gaps found were the lack of integrated valuation assessments; linking the contribution of cultural ecosystem service benefits to human well-being; assessing more subjective and intangible classes; identifying the role of open-ocean and deep-sea areas in providing these services; and understanding the role of non-natural capital in the co-production of cultural ecosystem services. “Research priorities should be aimed at filling these knowledge gaps” explain the authors.

Overcoming such challenges can result in more balanced decisions that will ultimately contribute to more sustainable interactions between humans and the marine environment. The authors highlight that “cultural ecosystem services are strong motivations for people to embrace sustainability, and hence their inclusion in environmental decision-supporting mechanisms can contribute to a more sustainable future for marine and coastal ecosystems”.

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Original Source:

Garcia Rodrigues J, Conides A, Rivero Rodriguez S, Raicevich S, Pita P, Kleisner K, Pita C, Lopes P, Alonso Roldán V, Ramos S, Klaoudatos D, Outeiro L, Armstrong C, Teneva L, Stefanski S, Böhnke-Henrichs A, Kruse M, Lillebø A, Bennett EM, Belgrano A, Murillas A, Sousa Pinto I, Burkhard B, Villasante S (2017) Marine and Coastal Cultural Ecosystem Services: knowledge gaps and research priorities. One Ecosystem 2: e12290. https://doi.org/10.3897/oneeco.2.e12290

Could green façades cool down cities in the future

Predictions for temperature rise and the particular sensitivity of urban ecosystems to heat stress pose a pressure to find the best solution for mitigation and adaptation to climate change. Could green façades be a sustainable and easy to implement strategy to keep our cities cool? A new study in the open access journal One Ecosystem uses the method of Bayesian networks to assess applicability of this nature-based solution, within the context of Berlin’s urban environment.

Urban heat is a recognised challenge for mid-latitude cities possibly aggravated by global climate change. Among the strategies to adapt the urban fabric, façade greening has been identified as an important measure to adjust the building stock and new buildings to adverse climatic impacts. Yet, little is known on factors that influence implementation probabilities for this adaptation measure.

Façade greening could be rather suitable way to establish vegetation in cities despite the development pressure. Not used for other purposes, unlike most of the horizontal green and open spaces in cities, façade greening needs very little space on the ground eliminating pressure and user competition.

In the past years, most German cities have developed climate change adaptation strategies which particularly focus on nature-based measures for urban planning to tackle the impacts of urban heat. In 15 of the 24 German adaptation strategies façade greening is mentioned as a measure to improve microclimatic conditions. But what is the likelihood of implementing and what is the attitude towards this measure?

Analysing attitudes and possibilities in the context of Berlin, a group of scientists found out that experts in Berlin estimate the likelihood of an implementation of façade greening under current conditions at 2% only. A different scenario including financial incentives from a backyard greening program, however, has shown to raise the chances to 14 %. Nonetheless, the factor of “willingness” of involved actors and the right combination of supportive and legislative factors appeared as a crucial pre-condition for the implementation of this measure.

“Our analysis allowed for ranking the influence of each of the factors on the outcome the research and we were surprised to see that in this case the “attitude” of determinant actors is of outmost importance, while financial prerequisites, legal and technical conditions also have an influence on the decision to install green façades but remain lower on the list.” comments the lead author of the study Nora Sprondel, Technische Universität Berlin, Germany.

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Original Source:

Sprondel N, Donner J, Mahlkow N, Köppel J (2016) Urban climate and heat stress: how likely is the implementation of adaptation measures in mid-latitude cities? The case of façade greening analyzed with Bayesian networks. One Ecosystem 1: e9280. https://doi.org/10.3897/oneeco.1.e9280

Global change, ecosystem services and human well being: An assessment for Europe

Highly dependent on the different aspects of global change, variations in ecosystem services supply can also have direct impacts on human well being. A new article published in the open access journal One Ecosystem assesses the relationships between climate and land use change and ecosystem services supply in Europe, to pave the way on research connecting them to adaptation and human well being in a changing world.

Ecosystem services arise when ecological structures or functions contribute toward meeting a human demand. With global change impacting biodiversity and ecosystems properties, ecosystem services supply are also likely to be affected, consequently impacting various aspects of human well being.

In this context, assessing the possible bio-physical impacts of the ongoing and future changes in climate and land use becomes highly relevant for designing mitigation and adaptation policies.

While undergoing a comprehensive climate and land use impact assessment continues to be a demanding research challenge due to the large knowledge gaps, in their new paper, the team of scientists from the European Commission’s Joint Research Centre, Ispra, Italy and the Institute for Environmental Studies at the VU University Amsterdam, the Netherlands, present a first of its kind spatially explicit preliminary assessment of the changes in ecosystem services supply as a function of these global change drivers.

Carried out for the mainland of the 28 Member States of the European Union, the focus of this analysis is on regulating ecosystem services, due to their direct dependency on the proper functioning of ecosystems. Focusing on three regulating services: air quality regulation, soil erosion control, and water flow regulation, the new research presents an assessment of changes related to global change and their projected impacts, positive or negative, on human well being in the different European regions.

“Considering both land use projections and climate change scenarios in our research, in principle, enabled us to capture the main pressures acting on ecosystems and their services, thus enhancing the suitability of this approach to generate policy-relevant information,” explains the authors. “Yet, this study is only preliminary and a stepping stone for further research, needed not only to expand the analysis to other ES, but also to incorporate processes and scaling properties of the systems considered as they become available, and to account for spatial dependencies.”

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Original Source:

Polce C, Maes J, Brander L, Cescatti A, Baranzelli C, Lavalle C, Zulian G (2016) Global change impacts on ecosystem services: a spatially explicit assessment for Europe. One Ecosystem 1: e9990. https://doi.org/10.3897/oneeco.1.e9990

Machine Learning techniques and the future of Ecology and Earth Science Research

Increasingly becoming a necessity in Ecology and Earth Science research, handling complex data can be a tough nut when traditional statistical methods are applied. As one of its first publications, the new technologically-advanced Open Access journal One Ecosystem features a review paper describing the benefits of using machine learning technologies when working with highly-dimensional and non-linear data.

Natural sciences, such as Ecology and Earth science, focus on the complex interactions between biotic and abiotic systems in order to infer understand these systems and make predictions. Traditional statistical methods can impose unrealistic assumptions that result in unsound conclusions as the era of ‘big data’ meets ecology and earth science. Machine-learning-based methods, capable of inferring missing data and handling complex interactions, are more apt for handling complex scientific data.

“A wider adoption of machine-learning methods in ecology and earth science has the potential to greatly accelerate the pace and quality of science,” explains the author of the study, Dr. Anne Thessen, the Ronin Institute for Independent Scholarship. “Despite these advantages, however, machine-learning techniques have not met their full potential in ecology and earth science”.

The present gap between the potential and actual use of machine-learning methods is mainly due to to the lack of communication and collaboration between the machine-learning research community and natural scientists; the current deficiency in graduate education in machine learning methods; and the requirement for a robust training and test data set.

However, according to the newly published review paper, these impediments can be overcome through financial support for collaborative work and education.

“For many researchers, machine learning is a relatively new paradigm that has only recently become accessible with the development of modern computing. In this paper I suggest several mechanisms through which this useful method can be quickly introduced within the ecological and earth science fields, to ensure their wider application.” adds Dr. Thessen.

“We are extremely happy to pioneer One Ecosystem publications with this particular article. Created as an innovator in the fields of Ecology and Sustainability Sciences, one of the journal’s main objectives is to answer the need for Open Access not only to the final research content, but also to all underpinning data. Tackling issues of the ‘big data’ era, this article provides a perfect match for being among the first publications in a journal that aims at innovation,” comments Benjamin Burkhard, Editor-in-Chief of One Ecosystem.

Original Source:

Thessen A (2016) Adoption of Machine Learning Techniques in Ecology and Earth Science. One Ecosystem 1: e8621. doi:10.3897/oneeco.1.e8621

Additional information:

The author would like to acknowledge NASA for financial support and the Boston Machine Learning Meetup Group for inspiration.