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      Implications of agricultural transitions and urbanization for ecosystem services

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          Abstract

          Historically, farmers and hunter-gatherers relied directly on ecosystem services, which they both exploited and enjoyed. Urban populations still rely on ecosystems, but prioritize non-ecosystem services (socioeconomic). Population growth and densification increase the scale and change the nature of both ecosystem- and non-ecosystem-service supply and demand, weakening direct feedbacks between ecosystems and societies and potentially pushing social-ecological systems into traps that can lead to collapse. The interacting and mutually reinforcing processes of technological change, population growth and urbanization contribute to over-exploitation of ecosystems through complex feedbacks that have important implications for sustainable resource use.

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          Most cited references 52

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          Proximate Causes and Underlying Driving Forces of Tropical Deforestation

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            Science for managing ecosystem services: Beyond the Millennium Ecosystem Assessment.

            The Millennium Ecosystem Assessment (MA) introduced a new framework for analyzing social-ecological systems that has had wide influence in the policy and scientific communities. Studies after the MA are taking up new challenges in the basic science needed to assess, project, and manage flows of ecosystem services and effects on human well-being. Yet, our ability to draw general conclusions remains limited by focus on discipline-bound sectors of the full social-ecological system. At the same time, some polices and practices intended to improve ecosystem services and human well-being are based on untested assumptions and sparse information. The people who are affected and those who provide resources are increasingly asking for evidence that interventions improve ecosystem services and human well-being. New research is needed that considers the full ensemble of processes and feedbacks, for a range of biophysical and social systems, to better understand and manage the dynamics of the relationship between humans and the ecosystems on which they rely. Such research will expand the capacity to address fundamental questions about complex social-ecological systems while evaluating assumptions of policies and practices intended to advance human well-being through improved ecosystem services.
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              Modeling multiple ecosystem services, biodiversity conservation, commodity production, and tradeoffs at landscape scales

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                Author and article information

                Journal
                Nature
                Nature
                Springer Science and Business Media LLC
                0028-0836
                1476-4687
                November 2014
                November 5 2014
                November 2014
                : 515
                : 7525
                : 50-57
                Article
                10.1038/nature13945
                25373674
                © 2014

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