Forum for Science, Industry and Business

Sponsored by:     3M 
Search our Site:

 

Ecosystem Services: a New Approach to Conservation

06.08.2008
Scientists are discovering that preserving the benefits whole ecosystems provide to people is more economically and environmentally valuable than protecting individual species or natural resources. At the Annual Meeting of the Ecological Society of America (ESA), ecologists will explore the application of ecosystem services approaches to conservation.

Environmental conservation efforts have traditionally focused on protecting individual species or natural resources. Scientists are discovering, however, that preserving the benefits that whole ecosystems provide to people is more economically and environmentally valuable. At the Annual Meeting of the Ecological Society of America (ESA), ecologists will explore the application of ecosystem services approaches to conservation.

Ecosystem services are the benefits that humans reap from natural areas where living and non-living things function in concert with each other. These services include a range of human essentials, such as food production, clean water and clean air. For example, grasslands and forests support pollinators, which promote healthy crops, while wetlands filter and purify our water supply.

An example of a managed area that provides many ecosystem services is tiny Lake Wingra, near Madison, Wisconsin. This 1-mile-square, 9-foot-deep lake is used for recreational fishing and swimming and houses one of the most biodiverse plant communities in the area. Amy Kamarainen, a graduate student at the University of Wisconsin-Madison wondered if the historical management decisions at the Lake Wingra watershed have affected the ecosystem services it provides today. She found that urbanization and filling of adjacent wetlands for agriculture and recreation have altered the lake’s water quality and purity.

Additionally, management decisions have not always been local, but sometimes at the regional and even national level: a national program that aimed to increase food resources in the early 1900s dictated the stocking of many non-native fish in the lake. Kamarainen believes these far-reaching management decisions have affected the lake’s ecosystem services.

“Taking a long-term perspective on ecosystem services highlights tradeoffs among services and points to the level at which management actions will be effective,” she says. “It’s important to keep these tradeoffs in mind in order to develop realistic management goals.”

One such trade-off occurs in a much larger lake system: the Great Lakes. The St. Lawrence Seaway provides an access route to ship goods from the Atlantic Ocean to the central U.S. and Canada, but also increases the likelihood of non-native species invading the lakes by hitching a ride in ships’ ballast water. Since the 1959 opening of the Seaway, an estimated 57 plant and animal species have been introduced to the lakes by shipping. John Rothlisberger, a graduate student at the University of Notre Dame, surveyed experts in the fields of ecology, fisheries biology and environmental management to put a price tag on the damage done by these invasive species.

Rothlisberger notes that unlike his survey method, traditional biodiversity studies focusing on high-profile species have limited economic usefulness because they can’t be extrapolated to a broad scale. His novel approach shows that in 2006, the lakes sustained hundreds of millions of dollars in estimated losses to commercial and recreational fishing.

“We often wring our hands trying to figure out how to put values on ecosystem services,” he says. “We hope policy makers will take notice that there are costs associated with these economic activities that haven’t been accounted for previously.”

While a graduate student at Stanford University, Rebecca Goldman also wanted to understand the implications of ecosystem service approaches, but from the perspective of stakeholder donations. She found that in the Western Hemisphere, ecosystem services projects receive on average four times more money from corporations than do their traditional biodiversity counterparts, making them much more economically viable. Further, because ecosystem services programs have a tangible impact on people’s lives, they also tend to recruit and integrate more interested parties.

“Ecosystem services projects are far more likely to engage a wider variety of stakeholders, drawing in private, agricultural landowners and engaging funds from sources such as private corporations,” says Goldman, who now works at The Nature Conservancy. She believes that this higher funding rate and broader diversity of stakeholders increase the chances that ecosystem service projects will be successful.

The researchers will present their results in Room 104 C at the Midwest Airlines Center in the following oral sessions:

Rebecca L. Goldman and Amy M. Kamarainen: Ecosystem Management and Assessment
Tues., Aug. 5, 8-11:30 a.m.
John D. Rothlisberger: Invasion: Mechanisms and Processes I
Wed., Aug. 6, 8-11:30 a.m.
For more information about this session and other ESA Annual Meeting activities, visit http://www.esa.org/milwaukee. The theme of the meeting is “Enhancing Ecological Thought by Linking Research and Education.” More than 3,500 scientists are expected to attend.

The Ecological Society of America is the world’s largest professional organization of ecologists, representing 10,000 scientists in the United States and around the globe. Since its founding in 1915, ESA has promoted the responsible application of ecological principles to the solution of environmental problems through ESA reports, journals, research, and expert testimony to Congress. ESA publishes four journals and convenes an annual scientific conference.

Christine Buckley | Newswise Science News
Further information:
http://www.esa.org

More articles from Ecology, The Environment and Conservation:

nachricht Litter is present throughout the world’s oceans: 1,220 species affected
27.03.2017 | Alfred-Wegener-Institut, Helmholtz-Zentrum für Polar- und Meeresforschung

nachricht International network connects experimental research in European waters
21.03.2017 | Leibniz-Institut für Gewässerökologie und Binnenfischerei (IGB)

All articles from Ecology, The Environment and Conservation >>>

The most recent press releases about innovation >>>

Die letzten 5 Focus-News des innovations-reports im Überblick:

Im Focus: Giant Magnetic Fields in the Universe

Astronomers from Bonn and Tautenburg in Thuringia (Germany) used the 100-m radio telescope at Effelsberg to observe several galaxy clusters. At the edges of these large accumulations of dark matter, stellar systems (galaxies), hot gas, and charged particles, they found magnetic fields that are exceptionally ordered over distances of many million light years. This makes them the most extended magnetic fields in the universe known so far.

The results will be published on March 22 in the journal „Astronomy & Astrophysics“.

Galaxy clusters are the largest gravitationally bound structures in the universe. With a typical extent of about 10 million light years, i.e. 100 times the...

Im Focus: Tracing down linear ubiquitination

Researchers at the Goethe University Frankfurt, together with partners from the University of Tübingen in Germany and Queen Mary University as well as Francis Crick Institute from London (UK) have developed a novel technology to decipher the secret ubiquitin code.

Ubiquitin is a small protein that can be linked to other cellular proteins, thereby controlling and modulating their functions. The attachment occurs in many...

Im Focus: Perovskite edges can be tuned for optoelectronic performance

Layered 2D material improves efficiency for solar cells and LEDs

In the eternal search for next generation high-efficiency solar cells and LEDs, scientists at Los Alamos National Laboratory and their partners are creating...

Im Focus: Polymer-coated silicon nanosheets as alternative to graphene: A perfect team for nanoelectronics

Silicon nanosheets are thin, two-dimensional layers with exceptional optoelectronic properties very similar to those of graphene. Albeit, the nanosheets are less stable. Now researchers at the Technical University of Munich (TUM) have, for the first time ever, produced a composite material combining silicon nanosheets and a polymer that is both UV-resistant and easy to process. This brings the scientists a significant step closer to industrial applications like flexible displays and photosensors.

Silicon nanosheets are thin, two-dimensional layers with exceptional optoelectronic properties very similar to those of graphene. Albeit, the nanosheets are...

Im Focus: Researchers Imitate Molecular Crowding in Cells

Enzymes behave differently in a test tube compared with the molecular scrum of a living cell. Chemists from the University of Basel have now been able to simulate these confined natural conditions in artificial vesicles for the first time. As reported in the academic journal Small, the results are offering better insight into the development of nanoreactors and artificial organelles.

Enzymes behave differently in a test tube compared with the molecular scrum of a living cell. Chemists from the University of Basel have now been able to...

All Focus news of the innovation-report >>>

Anzeige

Anzeige

Event News

International Land Use Symposium ILUS 2017: Call for Abstracts and Registration open

20.03.2017 | Event News

CONNECT 2017: International congress on connective tissue

14.03.2017 | Event News

ICTM Conference: Turbine Construction between Big Data and Additive Manufacturing

07.03.2017 | Event News

 
Latest News

Northern oceans pumped CO2 into the atmosphere

27.03.2017 | Earth Sciences

Fingerprint' technique spots frog populations at risk from pollution

27.03.2017 | Life Sciences

Big data approach to predict protein structure

27.03.2017 | Life Sciences

VideoLinks
B2B-VideoLinks
More VideoLinks >>>