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In no other ecosystem is biodiversity being irreversibly damaged to the extent that is occurring in inland or freshwater ecosystems. International legal frameworks are failing to reverse the current global freshwater biodiversity crisis. The ecosystem approach has emerged as a promising scientifically and socially progressive approach to managing ecosystems and the vulnerable societies that depend on them. The legal normative content and international legal status of this concept remain unclear. This chapter identifies five international legal elements of an ecosystem approach concerning transboundary freshwater ecosystems, drawing from international biodiversity, wetlands and water law which also includes fair and equitable benefit-sharing. It demonstrates how the UNECE regime provides the strongest clarification of an ecosystem approach, going beyond the UN Watercourses Convention and customary international law but benefits from interpretive clarification under biodiversity and wetlands regimes. The concept of ecosystem services is part of an ecosystem approach and the legal dimensions of this concept are examined. This chapter discusses how the ecosystem approach stimulates cross-sectoral coherence and mutual supportiveness between these different areas of law and contributes to equity in that process. It outlines how international human rights law could be relied upon to promote a stronger equity dimension for ecosystem services.
The introduction of flowering plants into orchards can increase functional biodiversity in pome fruit cultivation. Plants provide nectar, pollen and prey resources supporting pollinators and natural enemies. However, pests may also benefit from floral diets and a careful selection of plants is necessary to reduce any risk of pest proliferation. The codling moth Cydia pomonella is a major pest in apple growing worldwide and adults are known to consume sugars. The impact of floral diets (parsnip, wild carrot, coriander, red clover) on longevity, fecundity and fertility of adult codling moth was examined under laboratory conditions. In general, male moths lived longer than females, regardless of dietary treatments. Moths survived longest when supplied with parsnip flowers as a floral diet. Contrary to carrot, coriander resulted in higher longevity of adult C. pomonella compared to moths provided with red clover as a negative control. Adult nutrition on floral diets did not affect fecundity substantially. As expected, the majority of eggs were laid within the first week. Prolongation of moths’ lifespan by floral diets did not significantly increase the total number of eggs laid in contrast to a diet with 25% sucrose solution. According to these results, the risk of inadvertently promoting codling moth when growing selected flowering plants in the orchard will be rather low, because the fitness of the moths and especially the reproduction of the females will not be substantially enhanced.
Research into the relationship between ecosystem services and human well-being, including poverty alleviation, has blossomed. However, little is known about who has produced this knowledge, what collaborative patterns and institutional and funding conditions have underpinned it, or what implications these matters may have. To investigate the potential implications of such production for conservation science and practice, we address this by developing a social network analysis of the most prolific writers in the production of knowledge about ecosystem services and poverty alleviation. We show that 70% of these authors are men, most are trained in either the biological sciences or economics and almost none in the humanities. Eighty per cent of authors obtained their PhD from universities in the EU or the USA, and they are currently employed in these regions. The co-authorship network is strongly collaborative, without dominant authors, and with the top 30 most cited scholars being based in the USA and co-authoring frequently. These findings suggest, firstly, that the production of knowledge on ecosystem services and poverty alleviation research has the same geographical and gender biases that characterize knowledge production in other scientific areas and, secondly, that there is an expertise bias that also characterizes other environmental matters. This is despite the fact that the research field of ecosystem services and poverty alleviation, by its nature, requires a multidisciplinary lens. This could be overcome through promoting more extensive collaboration and knowledge co-production.
During the first decade and a half of the development of the systems ecology paradigm (SEP) most research efforts were placed on learning about how the biophysical realms of ecosystems function and how simulation models could aid gaining that understanding. Missing from that research were the obvious connections of humans as components of ecosystems, not simply as controllers. In 1981 the US National Science Foundation (NSF) Programs Ecosystems Studies and Anthropology funded the South Turkana Ecosystem Project. It was the first time that an ecosystem study had included the human component as a full actor in an ecosystem. The NSF has since created the Dynamics of Coupled Natural and Human Systems program, the sole purpose of which is to fund these types of projects. The human side of SEP has grown in other directions as well including, agro-ecosystem ecology, understanding ecosystem services and effects of land fragmentation, Citizen Science, and providing guidance to the management of natural and human-dominated systems and the improvement of human welfare. Ongoing research has led to the realization that the human residents of the ecosystems under study can engage with research scientists to co-create knowledge about the operation of their own systems.
The systems ecology paradigm (SEP) emerged in the late 1960s at a time when societies throughout the world were beginning to recognize that our environment and natural resources were being threatened by their activities. Management practices in rangelands, forests, agricultural lands, wetlands, and waterways were inadequate to meet the challenges of deteriorating environments, many of which were caused by the practices themselves. Scientists recognized an immediate need was developing a knowledge base about how ecosystems function. That effort took nearly two decades (1980s) and concluded with the acceptance that humans were components of ecosystems, not just controllers and manipulators of lands and waters. While ecosystem science was being developed, management options based on ecosystem science were shifting dramatically toward practices supporting sustainability, resilience, ecosystem services, biodiversity, and local to global interconnections of ecosystems. Emerging from the new knowledge about how ecosystems function and the application of the systems ecology approach was the collaboration of scientists, managers, decision-makers, and stakeholders locally and globally. Today’s concepts of ecosystem management and related ideas, such as sustainable agriculture, ecosystem health and restoration, consequences of and adaptation to climate change, and many other important local to global challenges are a direct result of the SEP.
National and international agencies and organizations have published reports outlining critical natural resource, environmental, and societal challenges facing global inhabitants. These reports include the UN Sustainability Goals, Future Earth, Global Land Project, and the Resilience Alliance. Recognizing many of the topics listed in these reports are broad and aspirational, the authors of this chapter have disaggregated many topics into research and management challenges for which the systems ecology paradigm is well suited. Disaggregation is based on challenges at different spatial hierarchical scales: organisms/populations; ecological sites; landscapes; small regions/watersheds; regions/nations; continents; and the globe. Emphasis is placed on research needs at landscape and larger hierarchical levels. Biophysical knowledge acquired during the past 50 years about organism/population and ecological site levels is available now to better manage ecosystems and natural resources. However, research blending the ecosystem knowledge base with behavioral, learning, organizational, and marketing sciences is vitally needed to affect management practice change at scales where people manage land and waters. The goal is to engage managers, policy makers, thought leaders, and concerned citizens to resolve critical problems and adopt best management practices to meet current and future environmental challenges (e.g., provision of ecosystem services and climate change effects on ecosystem).
Functional ecology is the branch of ecology that focuses on various functions that species play in the community or ecosystem in which they occur. This accessible guide offers the main concepts and tools in trait-based ecology, and their tricks, covering different trophic levels and organism types. It is designed for students, researchers and practitioners who wish to get a handy synthesis of existing concepts, tools and trends in trait-based ecology, and wish to apply it to their own field of interest. Where relevant, exercises specifically designed to be run in R are included, along with accompanying on-line resources including solutions for exercises and R functions, and updates reflecting current developments in this fast-changing field. Based on more than a decade of teaching experience, the authors developed and improved the way theoretical aspects and analytical tools of trait-based ecology are introduced and explained to readers.
Biodiversity points are a quantitative measure for biodiversity. For over a decade, biodiversity points are being applied in the Netherlands for measuring the impact of roads, enclosure dams, and other water management projects on the non-use value of biodiversity. Biodiversity points are quite similar to the quality-adjusted life years used for cost-effectiveness analysis of healthcare treatments. Biodiversity points can be calculated by multiplying the size of the ecotope (e.g., number of hectare), the ecological quality of the ecotope (0–100 %), and the ecological scarcity of each type of ecotope. For many infrastructure projects, the impact on the non-use value of biodiversity can be a principal purpose or a major co-benefit or trade-off, for example, for a park, a fish sluice, a road, an ecoduct, an enclosure dam, or a marine protected area. Biodiversity points are a simple, transparent, and standardized way to aggregate and quantify the qualitative or ordinal assessments by ecological experts. For measuring the non-use value of biodiversity, they are also more informative than valuation by revealed or stated preferences methods. This paper provides the first overview of the application of this method in the Dutch practice of cost–benefit analysis. It also discusses its merits and limitations. The calculation and use of biodiversity points are illustrated by four case studies.
Growing winter cereal rye (Secale cereale) (WCR) has been identified as an effective in-field practice to reduce nitrate-N and phosphorus (P) losses to Upper Mississippi River Basin, USA. In the Midwestern USA, growers are reluctant to plant WCR especially prior to corn (Zea mays L.) due to N immobilization and establishment issues. Precision planting of WCR or ‘skipping the corn row’ (STCR) can minimize some issues associated with WCR ahead of corn while reducing cover crop seed costs. The objective of this study was to compare the effectiveness of ‘STCR’ vs normal planting of WCR at full seeding rate (NP) on WCR biomass, nutrient uptake and composition in three site-yrs (ARC2019, ARC2020, BRC2020). Our results indicated no differences in cover crop dry matter biomass production between the STCR (2.40 Mg ha−1) and NP (2.41 Mg ha−1) supported by similar normalized difference vegetative index and plant height for both treatments. Phosphorus, potassium (K), calcium (Ca) and magnesium (Mg) accumulation in aboveground biomass was only influenced by site-yr and both STCR and NP removed similar amount of P, K, Ca and Mg indicating STCR could be as effective as NP in accumulating nutrients. Aboveground carbon (C) content (1086.26 kg h−1 average over the two treatments) was similar between the two treatments and only influenced by site-yr differences. Lignin, lignin:N and C:N ratios were higher in STCR than NP in one out of three site-yrs (ARC2019) indicating greater chance of N immobilization when WCR was planted later than usual. Implementing STCR saved $8.4 ha−1 for growers and could incentivize growers to adopt this practice. Future research should evaluate corn response to STCR compared with NP and assess if soil quality declines by STCR practice over time.
Conserving tropical forests has many benefits, from protecting biodiversity, sustaining indigenous and local communities, and safeguarding climate. To achieve the ambitious climate goals of the Paris Agreement, forest protection is essential. Yet deforestation continues to diminish the world's forests. Halting this trend is the objective of the international framework for Reducing Emissions from Deforestation and forest Degradation (REDD+). While previous studies have demonstrated the contribution of tropical forests to mitigate climate change, here we show that tropical forest protection can ‘flatten the curve’ of the costs of transition to climate stability, estimating tens of trillions of dollars in policy cost savings.
Subtropical dry forests are among the largest and most threatened terrestrial biomes worldwide. In Argentina, the Native Forest Law (NFL) was passed in 2007 to regulate deforestation by mandating the provincial zonation of forested areas, while the erection of fences has been an increasingly common mechanism of private-land control reinforcement in the region; this is mainly fuelled by imminent land-use changes, recent land transactions or subsidies from the NFL. We explored the dynamics between the erection of fences and deforestation in the Northern Argentinian Dry Chaco (NADC) during the implementation of the NFL. We found that a third of land deforested during 2000–2017 had been previously fenced, with the highest percentage (44%) occurring during the sanction of the NFL (2007) and the completion of the forest-zonation maps (2011). Only 34% of deforestation within fenced areas occurred in zones where deforestation was legally permitted. In total, 327 386 ha of forests had been fenced within NADC by 2017, representing areas of potential access restriction for local people, who historically used forest resources for survival. Additionally, 57% of the fenced area occurred in zones where deforestation was restricted. A novel remote-sensing application can serve as an early-warning tool for deforestation.
Inland waters and their biodiversity are a valuable resource. They are a source of fresh water, helping to purify it, and provide habitat for organisms (e.g. fishes) that may be eaten or used by humans. To improve the condition of fresh waters globally, it is imperative to link biodiversity conservation to human well-being. The concept of ecosystem services - the benefits humans derive from ecosystems - offers a means to make this link explicit, resolving the conflict between human water use and biodiversity protection. Ecosystem services thus serve as a proxy for biodiversity, assuming that maintaining the former will serve to protect the latter, representing a win-win conservation solution. While relevant for fisheries (a provisioning service), the substitution may be less applicable to supporting services that depend upon maintaining ecological functioning, not maximizing final services for humans. While valuation of biodiversity (and its subsequent monetization) is problematic, payment for ecosystem (or watershed) services can incentivize land-owners to protect sources of clean water for downstream users.
We estimate the ecosystem service value of water supplied by the San Bernardino National Forest in Southern California under climate change projections through the 21st century. We couple water flow projections from a dynamic vegetation model with an economic demand model for residential water originating from the San Bernardino National Forest. Application of the method demonstrates how estimates of consumer welfare changes due to variation in water supply from public lands in Southern California can inform policy and land management decisions. Results suggest variations in welfare changes over time due to alterations in the projected water supply surpluses, shifting demand limited by water supply shortages or surpluses, and price increases. Results are sensitive to future climate projections—in some cases large decreases in welfare due to supply shortages—and to assumptions about the demand model.
Recognition of the existence and extent of conservation reliance in laws, regulations, and prioritization schemes has been slow to emerge. Mike Scott and Dale Goble put forth the concept based on their experiences with management and legal approaches, respectively. Recognizing conservation reliance will improve trust and support for conservation projects across a broad segment of society.
Organic grain producers are interested in interseeding cover crops into corn (Zea mays L.) in regions that have a narrow growing season window for post-harvest establishment of cover crops. A field experiment was replicated across 2 years on three commercial organic farms in Pennsylvania to compare the effects of drill- and broadcast-interseeding to standard grower practices, which included post-harvest seeding cereal rye (Secale cereale L.) at the more southern location and winter fallow at the more northern locations. Drill- and broadcast-interseeding treatments occurred just after last cultivation and used a cover crop mixture of annual ryegrass [Lolium perenne L. ssp. multiflorum (Lam.) Husnot] + orchardgrass (Dactylis glomerata L.) + forage radish (Raphanus sativus L. ssp. longipinnatus). Higher mean fall cover crop biomass and forage radish abundance (% of total) was observed in drill-interseeding treatments compared with broadcast-interseeding. However, corn grain yield and weed suppression and N retention in late-fall and spring were similar among interseeding treatments, which suggests that broadcast-interseeding at last cultivation has the potential to produce similar production and conservation benefits at lower labor and equipment costs in organic systems. Post-harvest seeding cereal rye resulted in greater spring biomass production and N retention compared with interseeded cover crops at the southern location, whereas variable interseeding establishment success and dominance of winter-killed forage radish produced conditions that increased the likelihood of N loss at more northern locations. Additional research is needed to contrast conservation benefits and management tradeoffs between interseeding and post-harvest establishment methods.
Cover crops are increasingly being used for weed management, and planting them as diverse mixtures has become an increasingly popular strategy for their implementation. While ecological theory suggests that cover crop mixtures should be more weed suppressive than cover crop monocultures, few experiments have explicitly tested this for more than a single temporal niche. We assessed the effects of cover crop mixtures (5- or 6-species and 14-species mixtures) and monocultures on weed abundance (weed biomass) and weed suppression at the time of cover crop termination. Separate experiments were conducted in Madbury, NH, from 2014 to 2017 for each of three temporal cover-cropping niches: summer (spring planting–summer termination), fall (summer planting–fall termination), and spring (fall planting–subsequent spring termination). Regardless of temporal niche, mixtures were never more weed suppressive than the most weed-suppressive cover crop grown as a monoculture, and the more diverse mixture (14 species) never outperformed the less diverse mixture. Mean weed-suppression levels of the best-performing monocultures in each temporal niche ranged from 97% to 98% for buckwheat (Fagopyrum esculentum Moench) in the summer niche and forage radish (Raphanus sativus L. var. niger J. Kern.) in the fall niche, and 83% to 100% for triticale (×Triticosecale Wittm. ex A. Camus [Secale × Triticum]) in the winter–spring niche. In comparison, weed-suppression levels for the mixtures ranged from 66% to 97%, 70% to 90%, and 67% to 99% in the summer, fall, and spring niches, respectively. Stability of weed suppression, measured as the coefficient of variation, was two to six times greater in the best-performing monoculture compared with the most stable mixture, depending on the temporal niche. Results of this study suggest that when weed suppression is the sole objective, farmers are more likely to achieve better results planting the most weed-suppressive cover crop as a monoculture than a mixture.
Seed dispersal is an important ecological process that structures plant communities and influences ecosystem functioning. Loss of animal dispersers therefore poses a serious threat to forest ecosystems, particularly in the tropics where zoochory predominates. A prominent example is the near-total extinction of seed dispersers on the tropical island of Guam following the accidental introduction of the invasive brown tree snake (Boiga irregularis), negatively impacting seedling recruitment and forest regeneration. We investigated frugivory by a remnant population of Såli (Micronesian starling – Aplonis opaca) on Guam and two other island populations (Rota, Saipan) to evaluate their ecological role as a seed disperser in the Mariana archipelago. Using a combination of behavioural observations, nest contents and fecal samples, we documented frugivory of 37 plant species. Native plants comprised the majority (66%) of all species and 90% of all seeds identified in fecal and nest contents. Diet was highly similar across age classes and sampling years. In addition, plant species consumed by Såli comprised 88% of bird-dispersed adult trees and 54% of all adult trees in long-term forest monitoring plots, demonstrating the Såli’s broad diet and potential for restoring native forests. Overall, we provide the most comprehensive assessment to date of frugivory by the Såli and confirm its importance as a seed disperser on Guam and throughout the Marianas.
Decisions on the use of nature reflect the values and rights of individuals, communities and society at large. The values of nature are expressed through cultural norms, rules and legislation, and they can be elicited using a wide range of tools, including those of economics. None of the approaches to elicit peoples’ values are neutral. Unequal power relations influence valuation and decision-making and are at the core of most environmental conflicts. As actors in sustainability thinking, environmental scientists and practitioners are becoming more aware of their own posture, normative stance, responsibility and relative power in society. Based on a transdisciplinary workshop, our perspective paper provides a normative basis for this new community of scientists and practitioners engaged in the plural valuation of nature.
The SDG14 targets cover more than 70 per cent of the planet, including the coastal zone, where a range of forest resources are located. In this chapter we investigate the potential negative consequences of SDG14 on forest resources, using the example of coastal mangrove forests. SDG14 is likely to have negative impacts on forest resources because it focuses primarily on fisheries, potentially excluding other coastal natural resources. Many SDG14 targets are also more appropriate for oceanic areas, rather than the complex governance arrangements found in the coastal zone. This means that coastal forests such as mangroves may be forgotten, inadvertently impacted or fall through the ‘policy gap’ between terrestrial and marine legislation or between different levels of governance. This also has impacts on the human populations that rely on the ecosystem services provided by mangrove forests, and has implications for environmental justice. To minimise the impacts of SDG14 on mangrove forests and associated coastal communities, we recommend that SDG14 indicators should be broadened to encompass other coastal and oceanic natural resources, decentralisation of coastal zone governance should continue to be encouraged, and management regimes should include coastal communities and enshrine principles of environmental justice.
No net loss approaches to environmental policy claim that policy should maintain aggregate levels of natural capital. Substitutability between natural assets allows losses in some assets to be compensated for by gains in others while maintaining overall levels of natural capital. This paper argues that significant goods that matter to people’s well-being will be lost through a policy of no net loss. The concepts of natural capital and ecosystem services that underpin the no net loss approach to environmental policy cannot capture important dimensions of value that are central to human well-being.