Nonlinearity produces management opportunites for ecosystem services

A new ecosystems service paper from Koch et al Non-linearity in ecosystem services: temporal and spatial variability in coastal protection has just come out in Frontiers in Ecology and the Environment.

While the Millennium Ecosystem Assessment found that nonlinearity in the provision of ecosystem services was likely to be an important factor complicating ecosystem management, there have been few quantitative examples of this nonlinearity in the literature. Consequently, scientists and managers often assume that ecosystem services are provided unvaryingly at a steady rate. This article provides quantitative evidence for seasonal and spatial nonlinearity in the provision of wave attenuation and coastal protection, an ecosystem service provided by marshes, mangroves, seagrasses, and coral reefs.

There is a great deal of interest in the literature right now in ecosystem services as a justification for conservation and as a tool for ecosystem management. Assumptions about linearity or nonlinearity of ecosystem service provision could have a huge impact on the success of this management. I found this paper interesting because it provides quantitative evidence for nonlinearity in space and time in the provision of key ecosystem services.

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