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Sustaining ecosystem functions in a changing world: a call for an integrated approach


Tomimatsu, Hiroshi; Sasaki, Takehiro; et al (2013). Sustaining ecosystem functions in a changing world: a call for an integrated approach. Journal of Applied Ecology, 50(5):1124-1130.

Abstract

1. With ever-increasing human pressure on ecosystems, it is critically important to predict how ecosystem functions will respond to such human-induced perturbations. We define perturbations as either changes to abiotic environment (e.g. eutrophication, climate change) that indirectly affects biota, or direct changes to biota (e.g. species introductions). While two lines of research in ecology, biodiversity–ecosystem function (BDEF) and ecological resilience (ER) research, have addressed this issue, both fields of research have nontrivial shortcomings in their abilities to address a wide range of realistic scenarios.
2. We outline how an integrated research framework may foster a deeper understanding of the functional consequences of perturbations via simultaneous application of (i) process-based mechanistic predictions using trait-based approaches and (ii) detection of empirical patterns of functional changes along real perturbation gradients. In this context, the complexities of ecological interactions and evolutionary perspectives should be integrated into future research.
3. Synthesis and applications. Management of human-impacted ecosystems can be guided most directly by understanding the response of ecosystem functions to controllable perturbations. In particular, we need to characterize the form of a wide range of perturbation–function relationships and to draw connections between those patterns and the underlying ecological processes. We anticipate that the integrated perspectives will also be helpful for managers to derive practical implications for management from academic literature.

Abstract

1. With ever-increasing human pressure on ecosystems, it is critically important to predict how ecosystem functions will respond to such human-induced perturbations. We define perturbations as either changes to abiotic environment (e.g. eutrophication, climate change) that indirectly affects biota, or direct changes to biota (e.g. species introductions). While two lines of research in ecology, biodiversity–ecosystem function (BDEF) and ecological resilience (ER) research, have addressed this issue, both fields of research have nontrivial shortcomings in their abilities to address a wide range of realistic scenarios.
2. We outline how an integrated research framework may foster a deeper understanding of the functional consequences of perturbations via simultaneous application of (i) process-based mechanistic predictions using trait-based approaches and (ii) detection of empirical patterns of functional changes along real perturbation gradients. In this context, the complexities of ecological interactions and evolutionary perspectives should be integrated into future research.
3. Synthesis and applications. Management of human-impacted ecosystems can be guided most directly by understanding the response of ecosystem functions to controllable perturbations. In particular, we need to characterize the form of a wide range of perturbation–function relationships and to draw connections between those patterns and the underlying ecological processes. We anticipate that the integrated perspectives will also be helpful for managers to derive practical implications for management from academic literature.

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Additional indexing

Item Type:Journal Article, refereed, original work
Communities & Collections:07 Faculty of Science > Institute of Evolutionary Biology and Environmental Studies
Dewey Decimal Classification:570 Life sciences; biology
590 Animals (Zoology)
Language:English
Date:2013
Deposited On:22 Jan 2014 12:24
Last Modified:05 Apr 2016 17:23
Publisher:Wiley-Blackwell
ISSN:0021-8901
Additional Information:Article will be made freely available 2 years after publication.
Free access at:Publisher DOI. An embargo period may apply.
Publisher DOI:https://doi.org/10.1111/1365-2664.12116

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