Ecosystem functioning reflects the collective life activities of plants, animals, and microbes and the effects these activities (e.g., feeding, growing, moving, excreting waste) have on the physical and chemical conditions of their environment. Ecosystem functions (sometimes also referred to as ecosystem processes or ecological processes) are an integral part of biodiversity, and can thus be broadly defined as the biological, geochemical and physical processes that take place or occur within an ecosystem. Note that one of the first activity of this WG being to revisit the candidate EBVs, this list is likely to be edited.

About Ecosystem Function WG
Co-Lead
 Emily Nicholson
Deakin University
Key objectives
  1. Identify research opportunities supporting the identification/implementation of essential
    biodiversity variables relevant to the monitoring of ecosystem functions
  2. Derive/identify potential datasets supporting the implementation of essential biodiversity
    variables relevant to the monitoring of ecosystem functions
  3. Articulate and strengthen the links existing between essential biodiversity variables relevant
    to the monitoring of ecosystem functions and global indicators
  4. Provide guidance to national biodiversity networks in terms of in situ monitoring of essential
    biodiversity variables relevant to the monitoring of ecosystem functions
Activities
1. Define ecosystem function and review monitoring options for each known function
Lead Nathalie Pettorelli
Development approach Monitoring
EBVs Net Primary Productivity, Secondary Productivity, Nutrient Retention, Disturbance Regime
Description If we want to identify EBVs that can be relevant to ecosystem function monitoring, we need a clear definition of what ecosystem functions are, and how these are currently being monitored. This first activity will result in a scientific publication and the lead to the proposal of a revised set of candidate EBVs for the Ecosystem Function class.
Timeline 2017 2018 2019 2020
Milestones and/or Deliverables
  • Review of available information
  • Article submission
  • EF EBVs monitoring guidelines published
Resources
Link with other WG, BONs, TF The outcome of this activity will be relevant to all activities of the Ecosystem Function WG. Collaboration with and/or support from EBV Framework Task Force
2. Identifying Ecosystem Function Essential Biodiversity Variables
Leads Ilse geijzendorffer, Néstor Fernández, Nathalie Pettorelli
Development approach Monitoring
EBVs Net Primary Productivity, Secondary Productivity, Nutrient Retention, Disturbance Regime
Description Revising the list of EBVs and identifying possible new EBVs for the Ecosystem Function class, based on recent progress in defining ecosystem functions and agreeing on a typology.
Timeline 2017 2018 2019 2020
Milestones and/or Deliverables Members of the working group agree on a revised list of EV EBVs Article submission
Resources
Link with other activities Activities EF1 and EF3 Collaboration with and/or support from EBV Framework Task Force
3. Improve our understanding of the links between biodiversity, functional traits, and ecosystem functioning
Leads Simon Brandl, Jon Lefcheck
Development Approach Monitoring
EBVs Net Primary Productivity, Secondary Productivity, Nutrient Retention, Disturbance Regime
Description Species-based information could be highly relevant to ecosystem function monitoring, but for now little is being understood as to how species richness functional traits and ecosystem functions correlate. To that extent, a literature review and data re-analysis on the link between species
information and functions will be conducted, with a focus in animal communities. A parallel analysis will investigate the sensitivity of inferences based on methodological and trait choices.
Timeline 2017 2018 2019 2020
Milestones and/or Deliverables
  • Identification of potential project partners
  • Literature review
  • Paper submitted
Resources
Link with other activities This activity (and/or its outcome) will be linked with the work of the Species Traits WG
4. Operationalizing Ecosystem Function EBV production: Disturbance Regime
Leads Pedro Leitao, Néstor Fernández
Team Patrick Hostert, Domingo Alcaraz-Segura, Jean-Baptiste Feret, Maria João Santos, Jaime Garcia Márquez, Kate He, João Honrado, PD Dr. Angela Lausch, Miguel Mahecha, Catalina Munteanu, Markus Reichstein, Duccio Rocchini, Michael E. Schaepman, Andrew Skidmore
Development Approach Monitoring, Modelling
EBVs Disturbance Regime
Description Disturbances are a major driver of ecosystem dynamics influencing many structural and functional ecosystem properties such as vegetation and soil structure, species composition, water and CO2 fluxes, etc. Disturbance regimes are being widely modified by anthropogenic activities, affecting the exposure of ecosystems to fires, floods, extreme weather events, etc., as well as their capacity to buffer these events. The operationalization of the Disturbance Regime EBV needs to resolve many different conceptual and methodological challenges, involving, for example, contrasting views on whether disturbances should be monitored focusing on the external drivers (fire, floods, etc) or on ecosystem responses. In addition, several remote sensing products can be used for monitoring both drivers and responses, but the transition from these readily available datasets to a derived EBV needs to be operationalized. This activity aims to explore opportunities for current and future satellite remote sensing data to inform on disturbances and on their effects of ecosystems. It includes a systematic review of the concepts; examination of the availability of data for monitoring disturbances; testing and applying EBV production workflows; and finally, the production of a review paper on the opportunities and challenges for the global monitoring of disturbance regimes.
Timeline 2017 2018 2019 2020
Milestones and/or Deliverables
  • KOSMOS Workshop (30-31.03)
  • Design of the EBV production workflow
  • Design and testing of the EBV production workflow
  • First draft of publication
Resources Funding through the KOSMOS Programme (Humboldt-Universität zu Berlin).
Link with other activities Activity EF2 and EF5. Collaboration with and/or support from EBV Data Task Force
5. Characterize ecosystem Function response to extreme climatic events
Leads Franziska Schrodt and Shovonlal Roy
Development Approach Application
EBVs Net Primary Productivity, Secondary Productivity, Nutrient Retention, Disturbance Regime
Description Higher frequency and length of extreme events expected in the near future can severely alter ecosystem structure and function, but so far, we lack suitable approached to quantify likely changes in a comprehensive manner. Multiple ecological factors and environmental stressors influence ecosystem function across the land and oceanic ecosystems. While the individual effects of these factors are often studied, little is known about their combined effects on ecosystem function. Identifying and understanding the controlling factors and stressors for ecosystem function would be a precursor to understanding and predicting how the interlinks would respond in a gradually changing environment and extreme events. Moreover, understanding these across the land and aquatic ecosystems would be very useful, and one can think of investigating a common framework to study these changes
Timeline 2017 2018 2019 2020
Milestones and/or Deliverables
  • identification of potential project partners
  • Data acquisition
  • Organisation of a special session at the BES general meeting (Dec).
  • Preparation of a perspective paper
Submission of the perspective paper
Resources
Link with other activities
6. Complementary metrics for tracking change in regional ecosystem function related to fire
Lead Ayesha Tulloch
Development Approach Monitoring, Data mobilization
EBVs Disturbance Regime
Description Fire is a major driver of ecosystem disturbance and can both improve and reduce function depending on how far the current regime diverges from historical conditions. Different components related to fire history include area burnt, fire patchiness, intensity and frequency. Variation in these components lead to different outcomes for ecosystem function. We need a set of multiple complementary ecosystem condition metrics to effectively monitor change over time. This project will test existing and new metrics across a range of ecosystems with different levels of disturbance. Note that while the activity will first consider the fire disturbance, it will then be expanded to other types of disturbances.
Timeline 2017 2018 2019 2020
Milestones and/or Deliverables Identification of potential project partners and case study systems
  • analysis of datasets and metrics
  • Preparation of a scientific publication
Resources
Link with other activities Activity 4
7. Identification and reduction of uncertainties in the estimation of future ecosystem functions
Leads Ghada El Serafy, Antonello Provenzale
Development Approach Modelling, Application
EBVs Net Primary Productivity, Secondary Productivity, Nutrient Retention, Disturbance Regime
Description Identifying, quantifying and reducing uncertainty is a crucial issue in any prediction system or modelling application. The ramifications of uncertainty yield significant impacts on meteorological forecast ensembles, ecosystem response estimates, and reach as far as future social-economic scenarios. Uncertainty is relevant to the concept of environmental status reporting; it is an inherent property of system observation and furthermore, has far reaching implications when considering a system’s future status. Along these lines, acknowledgement and the subsequent management of uncertainty can significantly influence the optimal decision pathway of managerial officials.
Timeline 2017 2018 2019 2020
Milestones and/or Deliverables
  • identification of potential project partner
  • Workshop
Resources ECOPOTENTIAL
Link with other activities ECOPOTENTIAL
8. The impacts of phenological shifts on ecosystem functioning
Leads Kate S. He, Jeffery Masek
Team Ben Somers
Development Approach Modelling
Description Climate–induced phenological shifts have been observed in multiple ecosystems over the past decades. However, the impacts of phenological shifts on ecosystem structure and function have not been well studied. The aim of this project is to using long-term satellite time series (reflectance and temperature) which record inter- and intra-annual changes indicative of such shifts in habitats to determine consequential changes in ecosystem functioning.
Timeline 2017 2018 2019 2020
Milestones and/or Deliverables
  • identification of potential project partner
  • Workshop
  • Preparation of a manuscript
Resources
Link with other activities Link with the Ecosystem Structure Working Group and Remote Sensing Task Force.
9. Conceptual models to link ecosystem function and remotely sensed data
Lead Emily Nicholson
Development Approach Modelling, Application
Description Conceptual models of ecosystem dynamics support ecosystem risk assessment (including the IUCN Red List of Ecosystems), the identification of key variables and indicators for measuring change, and diagnosing threats to ecosystem persistence and management strategies for ecosystem functioning. A range of conceptual models have been proposed for different ecosystem types around the world, but tend to be inconsistent in their purpose and formulation. In this project, we seek to develop a library of conceptual models for broad ecosystem types, which can be adapted for specific ecosystems or
situations, to support risk assessment and threat diagnosis. In particular, we seek to link key ecological processes with indicators for measuring change in these processes, with a focus on identifying remotely sensed data that can contribute to measuring change in ecosystem function. The results will facilitate the use of remotely sensed data in ecosystem risk assessment and management around the world, at global, national and local scales.
Timeline 2017 2018 2019 2020
Milestones and/or Deliverables Workshop for grantwriting and conceptual framing
Resources
Link with other activities Link with the Ecosystem Structure Working Group and Remote Sensing Task Force.
Data Products
Documents & Publications
Partners
Resources