Changing Abundance, Composition and Distribution of Species

Delelegn YT, Purahong W, Blazevic A, Yitaferu B, Wubet T, Göransson H, Godbold DL. Changes in land use alter soil quality and aggregate stability in the highlands of northern Ethiopia . Scientific Reports [Internet]. 2017. Publisher's VersionAbstract

Land use change alters biodiversity and soil quality and thus affects ecosystem functions. This study investigated the effects of changes in land use on major soil quality indicators. Soil samples were taken from a depth of 0–10 cm (top soil) under four major land uses (cropland, grassland, area exclosure, eucalyptus plantation) with similar land use change histories for analysis, and soil from a nearby natural forest was used as a reference. Land use change from natural forest to cropland and grassland significantly decreased major soil quality indicators such as soil organic C (SOC), total soil N (TSN), molybdate-reactive bicarbonate-extractable P, and arbuscular mycorrhizal fungi (AMF) spore density, but compared to the cropland, change to area exclosure and eucalyptus plantation significantly improved SOC, TSN and soil aggregate stability (SAS). In addition, we assessed the correlation among indicators and found that SOC, TSN and SAS significantly correlate with many other soil quality indicators. The study highlights that the conversion of natural forest to cropland results in decline of soil quality and aggregate stability. However, compared to cropland, application of area exclosure and afforestation on degraded lands restores soil quality and aggregate stability.

Pattanayak SK, Kramer RA, Vincent JR. Ecosystem change and human health: implementation economics and policy. Philosophical Transactions of the Royal Society B [Internet]. 2017;372 (1722). Publisher's VersionAbstract

Several recent initiatives such as Planetary Health, EcoHealth and One Health claim that human health depends on flourishing natural ecosystems. However, little has been said about the operational and implementation challenges of health-oriented conservation actions on the ground. We contend that ecological–epidemiological research must be complemented by a form of implementation science that examines: (i) the links between specific conservation actions and the resulting ecological changes, and (ii) how this ecological change impacts human health and well-being, when human behaviours are considered. Drawing on the policy evaluation tradition in public economics, first, we present three examples of recent social science research on conservation interventions that affect human health. These examples are from low- and middle-income countries in the tropics and subtropics. Second, drawing on these examples, we present three propositions related to impact evaluation and non-market valuation that can help guide future multidisciplinary research on conservation and human health. Research guided by these propositions will allow stakeholders to determine how ecosystem-mediated strategies for health promotion compare with more conventional biomedical prevention and treatment strategies for safeguarding health.


Milner AM, Khamis K, Battin TJ, Brittain JE, Barranda NE, Füreder L, Cauvy-Fraunié S, Gíslason GMár, Jacobsen D, Hannah DM, et al. Glacier shrinkage driving global changes in downstream systems . Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences [Internet]. 2017;114 (37) :9770–9778. Publisher's VersionAbstract

Glaciers cover ∼10% of the Earth’s land surface, but they are shrinking rapidly across most parts of the world, leading to cascading impacts on downstream systems. Glaciers impart unique footprints on river flow at times when other water sources are low. Changes in river hydrology and morphology caused by climate-induced glacier loss are projected to be the greatest of any hydrological system, with major implications for riverine and near-shore marine environments. Here, we synthesize current evidence of how glacier shrinkage will alter hydrological regimes, sediment transport, and biogeochemical and contaminant fluxes from rivers to oceans. This will profoundly influence the natural environment, including many facets of biodiversity, and the ecosystem services that glacier-fed rivers provide to humans, particularly provision of water for agriculture, hydropower, and consumption. We conclude that human society must plan adaptation and mitigation measures for the full breadth of impacts in all affected regions caused by glacier shrinkage.

Gilbert SL, Sivy KJ, Pozzanghera CB, DuBour A, Overduijn K, Smith MM, Zhou J, Little JM, Prugh LR. Socioeconomic Benefits of Large Carnivore Recolonization Through Reduced Wildlife-Vehicle Collisions . Conservation Letters [Internet]. 2017;10 (4) :431-439. Publisher's VersionAbstract

The decline of top carnivores has released large herbivore populations around the world, incurring socioeconomic costs such as increased animal–vehicle collisions. Attempts to control overabundant deer in the Eastern United States have largely failed, and deer–vehicle collisions (DVCs) continue to rise at alarming rates. We present the first valuation of an ecosystem service provided by large carnivore recolonization, using DVC reduction by cougars as a case study. Our coupled deer population models and socioeconomic valuations revealed that cougars could reduce deer densities and DVCs by 22% in the Eastern United States, preventing 21,400 human injuries, 155 fatalities, and $2.13 billion in avoided costs within 30 years of establishment. Recently established cougars in South Dakota prevent $1.1 million in collision costs annually. Large carnivore restoration could provide valuable ecosystem services through such socio-ecological cascades, and these benefits could offset the societal costs of coexistence.

Halpern BS, Frazier M, Afflerbach J, O’Hara C, Katona S, Lowndes JSS, Jiang N, Pacheco E, Scarborough C, Polsenberg J. Drivers and implications of change in global ocean health over the past five years . PLoS ONE [Internet]. 2017. Publisher's VersionAbstract

Growing international and national focus on quantitatively measuring and improving ocean health has increased the need for comprehensive, scientific, and repeated indicators to track progress towards achieving policy and societal goals. The Ocean Health Index (OHI) is one of the few indicators available for this purpose. Here we present results from five years of annual global assessment for 220 countries and territories, evaluating potential drivers and consequences of changes and presenting lessons learned about the challenges of using composite indicators to measure sustainability goals. Globally scores have shown little change, as would be expected. However, individual countries have seen notable increases or declines due in particular to improvements in the harvest and management of wild-caught fisheries, the creation of marine protected areas (MPAs), and decreases in natural product harvest. Rapid loss of sea ice and the consequent reduction of coastal protection from that sea ice was also responsible for declines in overall ocean health in many Arctic and sub-Arctic countries. The OHI performed reasonably well at predicting near-term future scores for many of the ten goals measured, but data gaps and limitations hindered these predictions for many other goals. Ultimately, all indicators face the substantial challenge of informing policy for progress toward broad goals and objectives with insufficient monitoring and assessment data. If countries and the global community hope to achieve and maintain healthy oceans, we will need to dedicate significant resources to measuring what we are trying to manage.