Thursday, June 7, 2012

Biodiversity loss and its impact on humanity

Another review paper on biodiversity in the latest Nature (to celebrate the coming Rio+20?).  In addition to review two decades of research on BEF, this paper also reviews the impacts of biodiversity loss on ecosystem services.

The paper summarized six consensus statements and four emerging trends on BEF research, all of which are fairly straight forward/established except the last one--"The ecological consequences of biodiversity loss can be predicted from evolutionary history."  For me this is a very strong statement and I wasn't aware of we have learned enough to predict. 

The authors are less confident with the linkage between biodiversity and ecosystem services in making their four statements after reviewing the top 100 papers for each ecosystem services (Table 1).

Statement one

There is now sufficient evidence that biodiversity per se either directly influences (experimental evidence) or is strongly correlated with (observational evidence) certain provisioning and regulating services.

Statement two

For many of the ecosystem services reviewed, the evidence for effects of biodiversity is mixed, and the contribution of biodiversity per se to the service is less well defined.

Statement three

For many services, there are insufficient data to evaluate the relationship between biodiversity and the service.

Statement four

For a small number of ecosystem services, current evidence for the impact of biodiversity runs counter to expectations.

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