UBC Science Oct 14, 2021 - New paper lays out agenda for the next generation of biodiversity research
Mary I. O'Connor, Akira S. Mori, Andrew Gonzalez, Laura E. Dee, Michel Loreau, Meghan Avolio, Jarrett E. K. Byrnes, William Cheung, Jane Cowles, Adam T. Clark, Yann Hautier, Andrew Hector, Kimberly Komatsu, Tim Newbold, Charlotte L. Outhwaite, Peter B. Reich, Eric Seabloom, Laura Williams, Alexandra Wright, and Forest Isbell. 2021. Grand challenges in biodiversity–ecosystem functioning research in the era of science–policy platforms require explicit consideration of feedbacks. Proceedings of the Royal Society B
Feedbacks are an essential feature of resilient socio-economic systems, yet the feedbacks between biodiversity, ecosystem services and human wellbeing are not fully accounted for in global policy efforts that consider future scenarios for human activities and their consequences for nature. Failure to integrate feedbacks in our knowledge frameworks exacerbates uncertainty in future projections and potentially prevents us from realizing the full benefits of actions we can take to enhance sustainability. We identify six scientific research challenges that, if addressed, could allow future policy, conservation and monitoring efforts to quantitatively account for ecosystem and societal consequences of biodiversity change. Placing feedbacks prominently in our frameworks would lead to (i) coordinated observation of biodiversity change, ecosystem functions and human actions, (ii) joint experiment and observation programmes, (iii) more effective use of emerging technologies in biodiversity science and policy, and (iv) a more inclusive and integrated global community of biodiversity observers. To meet these challenges, we outline a five-point action plan for collaboration and connection among scientists and policymakers that emphasizes diversity, inclusion and open access. Efforts to protect biodiversity require the best possible scientific understanding of human activities, biodiversity trends, ecosystem functions and—critically—the feedbacks among them.