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Changes in biodiversity and trade-offs among ecosystem services, stakeholders, and components of well-being: the contribution of the International Long-Term Ecological Research network (ILTER) to Programme on Ecosystem Change and Society (PECS)

Manuel Maass, Instituto de Investigaciones en Ecosistemas y Sustentabilidad (IIES), Universidad Nacional Autónoma de México (UNAM), México
Patricia Balvanera, Instituto de Investigaciones en Ecosistemas y Sustentabilidad (IIES), Universidad Nacional Autónoma de México (UNAM), México
Patrick Bourgeron, Institute of Arctic and Alpine Research (INSTAAR), University of Colorado at Boulder, USA
Miguel Equihua, Instituto de Ecología, A.C. (INECOL), México
Jacques Baudry, Institut National de la Recherche Agronomique (INRA), SAD-Paysage, France
Jan Dick, Centre for Ecology and Hydrology, UK
Martin Forsius, Finnish Environment Institute (SYKE), Finland
Lubos Halada, Institute of Landscape Ecology SAS, Slovakia
Kinga Krauze, European Regional Centre for Ecohydrology, PAS, Poland
Masahiro Nakaoka, Akkeshi Marine Station, Field Science Center for Northern Biosphere, Hokkaido University, Japan
Daniel E. Orenstein, Faculty of Architecture and Town Planning, Technion - Israel Institute of Technology, Israel
Terry W. Parr, Centre for Ecology & Hydrology, Lancaster Environment Centre, Lancaster, UK
Charles L. Redman, School of Sustainability, Arizona State University, USA
Ricardo Rozzi, Sub-Antarctic Biocultural Conservation Program, University of North Texas, USA; Institute of Ecology & Biodiversity, Universidad de Magallanes, Omora Ethnobotanical Park, Puerto Williams, Chile
Margarida Santos-Reis, Centre for Ecology, Evolution and Environmental Changes (cE3c), Faculdade de Ciências da Universidade de Lisboa, Portugal
Anthony M. Swemmer, South African Environmental Observation Network (SAEON), South Africa
Angheluta Vădineanu, Research Centre for Systems Ecology and Sustainability, University of Bucharest, Romania


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The International Long-Term Ecological Research (ILTER) network comprises > 600 scientific groups conducting site-based research within 40 countries. Its mission includes improving the understanding of global ecosystems and informs solutions to current and future environmental problems at the global scales. The ILTER network covers a wide range of social-ecological conditions and is aligned with the Programme on Ecosystem Change and Society (PECS) goals and approach. Our aim is to examine and develop the conceptual basis for proposed collaboration between ILTER and PECS. We describe how a coordinated effort of several contrasting LTER site-based research groups contributes to the understanding of how policies and technologies drive either toward or away from the sustainable delivery of ecosystem services. This effort is based on three tenets: transdisciplinary research; cross-scale interactions and subsequent dynamics; and an ecological stewardship orientation. The overarching goal is to design management practices taking into account trade-offs between using and conserving ecosystems toward more sustainable solutions. To that end, we propose a conceptual approach linking ecosystem integrity, ecosystem services, and stakeholder well-being, and as a way to analyze trade-offs among ecosystem services inherent in diverse management options. We also outline our methodological approach that includes: (i) monitoring and synthesis activities following spatial and temporal trends and changes on each site and by documenting cross-scale interactions; (ii) developing analytical tools for integration; (iii) promoting trans-site comparison; and (iv) developing conceptual tools to design adequate policies and management interventions to deal with trade-offs. Finally, we highlight the heterogeneity in the social-ecological setting encountered in a subset of 15 ILTER sites. These study cases are diverse enough to provide a broad cross-section of contrasting ecosystems with different policy and management drivers of ecosystem conversion; distinct trends of biodiversity change; different stakeholders’ preferences for ecosystem services; and diverse components of well-being issues.

Key words

ecosystem integrity; ecosystem services; ILTER; long-term ecological research; PECS; site-based research; socio-ecosystem research; trade-offs among ecosystem services; transdiscipline

Copyright © 2016 by the author(s). Published here under license by The Resilience Alliance. This article is under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial 4.0 International License. You may share and adapt the work for noncommercial purposes provided the original author and source are credited, you indicate whether any changes were made, and you include a link to the license.

Ecology and Society. ISSN: 1708-3087