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Conservation Science for a Healthy Planet

Tag Archive: ecosystem services

  1. Climate-Smart Land Trusts: Accelerating Nature-Based Solutions to Secure our Future

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    The California Council of Land Trusts hosted the 2017 California Land Conservation Conference from March 7-9, 2017 at UC Davis.

    Ellie Cohen, Point Blue President and CEO was a keynote speaker.  A pdf of Ellie’s presentation can be found here: Accelerating Nature-Based Solutions- Climate-Smart Land Trusts CCLT Keynote March 7 2017

    You can see a pdf of the full program here.

  2. Invasive, native marsh grasses may provide similar benefits to protected wetlands

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    Posted: 27 Feb 2017 12:03 PM PST Science Daily  full article here

    An invasive species of marsh grass that spreads, kudzu-like, throughout North American wetlands, may provide similar benefits to protected wetlands as native marsh grasses. According to new research, the invasive marsh grass’s effects on carbon storage, erosion prevention and plant diversity in protected wetlands are neutral….

    …Phragmites australis, known as the common reed, is an invasive marsh grass that can spread at rates up to 15 feet per year. It thrives throughout North American wetlands, and studies have demonstrated that its densely packed growth pattern chokes out native marsh plants, thereby reducing plant diversity and habitat used by some threatened and endangered birds.

    However, other studies have shown that Phragmites may help reduce shoreline erosion in marshlands and store carbon at faster rates than native grasses… The findings were encouraging. The team found no significant differences between ecosystem services of the marshes they studied, indicating that Phragmites‘ effect was largely neutral. However, Theuerkauf points out that the neutral effect could be due to the protected status of the wetlands they studied and the specific ecosystem services evaluated.

    “Studies that associate Phragmites with negative impacts on wetlands are often conducted in areas that have seen significant human interventions, such as shoreline development or construction of drainage canals, whereas our study was conducted in undisturbed marsh habitat within a protected reserve system,” Theuerkauf says….

    Seth J. Theuerkauf, Brandon J. Puckett, Kathrynlynn W. Theuerkauf, Ethan J. Theuerkauf, David B. Eggleston. Density-dependent role of an invasive marsh grass, Phragmites australis, on ecosystem service provision. PLOS ONE, 2017; 12 (2): e0173007 DOI: 10.1371/journal.pone.0173007

  3. New research to help preserve the benefits people receive from nature

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    February 9, 2017 University of Queensland Science Daily Full article here

    Humans rely on things that come from nature — including clean air, water, food, and timber. But how can we tell if these natural services that people rely on, are at risk of being lost, potentially permanently?…

    …”We have developed a framework to identify services that at risk of being undersupplied or even of being lost entirely. This allows time to either move towards more sustainable use, or to start planning for alternatives when we lose the ecosystem service.At its core, the framework is a method to analyse supply and demand, and the different things that affect them, like the condition of natural systems and whether demand by people is expected to change over time….

    Martine Maron et al. Towards a Threat Assessment Framework for Ecosystem Services. Trends in Ecology and Evolution, February 2017 DOI: 10.1016/j.tree.2016.12.011

  4. ‘Nature-based solutions’ is the latest green jargon that means more than you might think

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    It may sound vague, but the term represents real and vital concepts.

    11 January 2017 Nature Editorial

    The latest attempt to brand green practices is better than it sounds….Nature-based solutions may sound artificial and unusable at first, but then so, probably, did the now-widespread, accepted and useful ‘sustainable development’ and even ‘biodiversity’ when they were first written and spoken aloud — and both terms emerged into policy debate more recently than you might expect.

    Still, if NBS seems poorly defined and vague, that is because it currently is — and this is where scientists come in. As specialists in conservation and sustainability point out in the journal Science of the Total Environment (C. Nesshöver et al. Sci. Tot. Environ. 579, 1215–1227; 2017), NBS will require the research community, its supporters and funders to answer a series of questions. The answers will entail identifying the specific problems for which a nature-based solution is needed, and monitoring the outcomes. Words, after all, can only take us so far.

    Nature 541, 133–134 (12 January 2017) doi:10.1038/541133b

  5. New California Law Recognizes Meadows, Streams As “Green Infrastructure”, Eligible For Public Works Funding

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    http://www.ecosystemmarketplace.com/articles/california-peru-part-global-trend-recognizing-forests-rivers-infrastructure/

    As degraded watersheds drag California into its sixth year of drought, a new law makes forests, farms, and fields eligible for infrastructure funding – and the state is hardly alone, according to new research by Ecosystem Marketplace, which shows a dramatic surge in payments for watershed services across the United States and around the world.

    By Kelli Barrett October 2016 Ecosystem Marketplace

    The US state of California has spent the better part of the last hundred years cobbling together a massive network of pipes, pumps, and aqueducts that today suck water from remote rivers in angry parts of distant states up over high mountains down through dry valleys and into the Southern part of the state. It’s a technological and engineering wonder – one the Romans would envy – but it’s only as good as the forests and catchments that mop up that water and filter it for human consumption, and those ecosystems are increasingly under pressure.

    So, with the state entering its sixth year of drought, Governor Jerry Brown last month signed a landmark law, Assembly Bill 2480, declaring that “source watersheds are recognized and defined as integral components of California’s water infrastructure.” In so doing, he made it possible to funnel billions of dollars in infrastructure finance towards the restoration of forests and the maintenance of meadows, streams and rivers – echoing a similar move by Peru last year and accelerating a decades-old trend towards the use of “natural infrastructure” to manage water supplies.

    Indeed, preliminary findings from Ecosystem Marketplace’s State of Watershed Investments 2016 report, slated for release in early 2017, identify at least 95 initiatives in the United States funneling at least $3.8 billion into watershed conservation, and the global figures are multiples of that. Meanwhile, a recent mapping initiative launched this month shows dramatic increases in all payments for ecosystem services….

  6. Intensification of land use leads to the same species everywhere

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    Homogenization of species communities in our landscape documented; reducing ecosystem services
    November 30, 2016 Technical University of Munich (TUM)  ScienceDaily

    https://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2016/11/161130133911.htm

    In places where humans use grasslands more intensively, it is not only the species diversity which decreases — the landscape also becomes more monotonous, and ultimately only the same species remain everywhere. This results in nature no longer being able to provide its ‘services’, which range from soil formation for food production to pest control.….

    …What was unique in this case was that data from organisms in the ground such as from bacteria, fungi, and millipedes were also included….The findings showed that it did not matter whether grassland areas were used moderately or intensively by humans….

    It is only when as many species as possible are able to find the unique habitats they require across large areas that ‘ecosystem services’, which improve human well-being, can remain intact. Because ‘nature’s services’ help increase food production by improving soil formation, for example, but they also help keep pests in check.

    Gossner et al. Land-use intensification causes multitrophic homogenization of grassland communities. Nature, 2016; DOI: 10.1038/nature20575

  7. International scientists call for global effort to improve climate change predictions for biodiversity

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    September 8, 2016

    With global temperatures rising, an international group of 22 top biologists is calling for a coordinated effort to gather important species information that is urgently needed to improve predictions for the impact of climate change on future biodiversity. Current predictions fail to account for important biological factors like species competition and movement that can have a profound influence on whether a plant or animal survives changes to its environment, the scientists say in the September 9 issue of the journal Science. While more sophisticated forecasting models exist, much of the detailed species information that is needed to improve predictions is lacking.

    The 22 top biologists affiliated with the article identify six key types of biological information, including life history, physiology, genetic variation, species interactions, and dispersal, that will significantly improve prediction outcomes for individual species. Obtaining that information will not only help the scientific community better identify the most at-risk populations and ecosystems, the scientists say, it will also allow for a more targeted distribution of resources as global temperatures continue to rise at a record rate.…With more than 8.7 million species worldwide, gathering the necessary biological information to improve predictions is a daunting task. Even a sampling of key species would be beneficial, the authors say, as the more sophisticated models will allow scientists to extrapolate their predictions and apply them to multiple species with similar traits.

    The researchers are calling for the launch of a global campaign to be spearheaded by the Intergovernmental Science-Policy Platform on Biodiversity and Ecosystem Services or IPBES. The IPBES operates under the auspices of four United Nations entities and is dedicated to providing scientific information to policymakers worldwide. One thousand scientists from all over the world currently contribute to the work of IPBES on a voluntary basis. The scientists are also encouraging conservation strategies to support biodiversity such as maintaining dispersal corridors, and preserving existing natural habitats and genetic diversity. “Our biggest challenge is pinpointing which species to concentrate on and which regions we need to allocate resources,” says UConn Associate Professor Urban. In an earlier study in Science, Urban predicted that as many as one in six species internationally could be wiped out by climate change. “We are at a triage stage at this point. We have limited resources and patients lined up at the door.”

    · M. C. Urban, G. Bocedi, A. P. Hendry, J.- B. Mihoub, G. Peer, A. Singer, J. R. Bridle, L. G. Crozier, L. De Meester, W. Godsoe, A. Gonzalez, J. J. Hellmann, R. D. Holt, A. Huth, K. Johst, C. B. Krug, P. W. Leadley, S. C. F. Palmer, J. H. Pantel, A. Schmitz, P. A. Zollner, J. M. J. Travis. Improving the forecast for biodiversity under climate changeScience, 2016; 353 (6304): aad8466 DOI: 10.1126/science.aad8466

    · M. C. Urban. Accelerating extinction risk from climate changeScience, 2015; 348 (6234): 571 DOI: 10.1126/science.aaa4984

    https://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2016/09/160908150904.htm#.V9SW3rRSBF0.email