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      A function-based typology for Earth’s ecosystems

      research-article
      1 , 2 , 3 , ,   1 , 3 , 3 , 4 , 5 , 6 , 7 , 8 , 1 , 2 , 9 , 10 , 11 , 12 , 13 , 4 , 14 , 15 , 16 , 17 , 18 , 19 , 20 , 9 , 21 , 22 , 3 , 4 , 23 , 24 , 1 , 25 , 26 , 27 , 18 , 28 , 29 , 30 , 31 , 32 , 33 , 34 , 35 , 3 , 36 , 37 , 38 , 22 , 39 , 1 , 3 , 40 , 41 , 42 , 43 , 44 , 1
      Nature
      Nature Publishing Group UK
      Biodiversity, Conservation biology, Ecosystem ecology

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          Summary

          The new IUCN Global Ecosystem Typology is a comprehensive classification framework for Earth’s ecosystems that integrates their functional and compositional features.

          This new typology will help identify the ecosystems that are most critical for biodiversity conservation, research, management and human wellbeing into the future.

          The IUCN Global Ecosystem Typology comprises six hierarchical levels, with the three upper levels developed on the global-ecosystems website, allowing navigation from global to local scales. The three upper levels – realms, functional biomes and ecosystem functional groups – classify ecosystems based on their functional characteristics (such as structural roles of foundation species, water regime, climatic regime or food web structure), rather than based on which species live in them.

          The three lower levels of classification – biogeographic ecotypes, global ecosystem types and subglobal ecosystem types – are often already in use and incorporated into policy infrastructure at national levels and can be linked to these upper levels. This is crucial, as important conservation action occurs at local levels, where most ecosystem-specific knowledge and data reside.

          Abstract

          As the United Nations develops a post-2020 global biodiversity framework for the Convention on Biological Diversity, attention is focusing on how new goals and targets for ecosystem conservation might serve its vision of ‘living in harmony with nature’ 1, 2 . Advancing dual imperatives to conserve biodiversity and sustain ecosystem services requires reliable and resilient generalizations and predictions about ecosystem responses to environmental change and management 3 . Ecosystems vary in their biota 4 , service provision 5 and relative exposure to risks 6 , yet there is no globally consistent classification of ecosystems that reflects functional responses to change and management. This hampers progress on developing conservation targets and sustainability goals. Here we present the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN) Global Ecosystem Typology, a conceptually robust, scalable, spatially explicit approach for generalizations and predictions about functions, biota, risks and management remedies across the entire biosphere. The outcome of a major cross-disciplinary collaboration, this novel framework places all of Earth’s ecosystems into a unifying theoretical context to guide the transformation of ecosystem policy and management from global to local scales. This new information infrastructure will support knowledge transfer for ecosystem-specific management and restoration, globally standardized ecosystem risk assessments, natural capital accounting and progress on the post-2020 global biodiversity framework.

          Abstract

          The International Union for Conservation of Nature’s Global Ecosystem Typology has been developed to provide a systematic framework for data on all of Earth’s ecosystems in a unified theoretical context to support biodiversity conservation and ecosystem services.

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          Most cited references51

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          High-resolution global maps of 21st-century forest cover change.

          Quantification of global forest change has been lacking despite the recognized importance of forest ecosystem services. In this study, Earth observation satellite data were used to map global forest loss (2.3 million square kilometers) and gain (0.8 million square kilometers) from 2000 to 2012 at a spatial resolution of 30 meters. The tropics were the only climate domain to exhibit a trend, with forest loss increasing by 2101 square kilometers per year. Brazil's well-documented reduction in deforestation was offset by increasing forest loss in Indonesia, Malaysia, Paraguay, Bolivia, Zambia, Angola, and elsewhere. Intensive forestry practiced within subtropical forests resulted in the highest rates of forest change globally. Boreal forest loss due largely to fire and forestry was second to that in the tropics in absolute and proportional terms. These results depict a globally consistent and locally relevant record of forest change.
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            Primary forests are irreplaceable for sustaining tropical biodiversity.

            Human-driven land-use changes increasingly threaten biodiversity, particularly in tropical forests where both species diversity and human pressures on natural environments are high. The rapid conversion of tropical forests for agriculture, timber production and other uses has generated vast, human-dominated landscapes with potentially dire consequences for tropical biodiversity. Today, few truly undisturbed tropical forests exist, whereas those degraded by repeated logging and fires, as well as secondary and plantation forests, are rapidly expanding. Here we provide a global assessment of the impact of disturbance and land conversion on biodiversity in tropical forests using a meta-analysis of 138 studies. We analysed 2,220 pairwise comparisons of biodiversity values in primary forests (with little or no human disturbance) and disturbed forests. We found that biodiversity values were substantially lower in degraded forests, but that this varied considerably by geographic region, taxonomic group, ecological metric and disturbance type. Even after partly accounting for confounding colonization and succession effects due to the composition of surrounding habitats, isolation and time since disturbance, we find that most forms of forest degradation have an overwhelmingly detrimental effect on tropical biodiversity. Our results clearly indicate that when it comes to maintaining tropical biodiversity, there is no substitute for primary forests.
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              • Article: not found

              High-resolution mapping of global surface water and its long-term changes.

              The location and persistence of surface water (inland and coastal) is both affected by climate and human activity and affects climate, biological diversity and human wellbeing. Global data sets documenting surface water location and seasonality have been produced from inventories and national descriptions, statistical extrapolation of regional data and satellite imagery, but measuring long-term changes at high resolution remains a challenge. Here, using three million Landsat satellite images, we quantify changes in global surface water over the past 32 years at 30-metre resolution. We record the months and years when water was present, where occurrence changed and what form changes took in terms of seasonality and persistence. Between 1984 and 2015 permanent surface water has disappeared from an area of almost 90,000 square kilometres, roughly equivalent to that of Lake Superior, though new permanent bodies of surface water covering 184,000 square kilometres have formed elsewhere. All continental regions show a net increase in permanent water, except Oceania, which has a fractional (one per cent) net loss. Much of the increase is from reservoir filling, although climate change is also implicated. Loss is more geographically concentrated than gain. Over 70 per cent of global net permanent water loss occurred in the Middle East and Central Asia, linked to drought and human actions including river diversion or damming and unregulated withdrawal. Losses in Australia and the USA linked to long-term droughts are also evident. This globally consistent, validated data set shows that impacts of climate change and climate oscillations on surface water occurrence can be measured and that evidence can be gathered to show how surface water is altered by human activities. We anticipate that this freely available data will improve the modelling of surface forcing, provide evidence of state and change in wetland ecotones (the transition areas between biomes), and inform water-management decision-making.
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                Author and article information

                Contributors
                david.keith@unsw.edu.au
                Journal
                Nature
                Nature
                Nature
                Nature Publishing Group UK (London )
                0028-0836
                1476-4687
                12 October 2022
                12 October 2022
                2022
                : 610
                : 7932
                : 513-518
                Affiliations
                [1 ]GRID grid.1005.4, ISNI 0000 0004 4902 0432, Centre for Ecosystem Science, , University of New South Wales, ; Sydney, New South Wales Australia
                [2 ]New South Wales Department of Planning, Industry and Environment, Hurstville, New South Wales Australia
                [3 ]GRID grid.426526.1, ISNI 0000 0000 8486 2070, IUCN Commission on Ecosystem Management, ; Gland, Switzerland
                [4 ]GRID grid.1021.2, ISNI 0000 0001 0526 7079, Centre for Integrative Ecology, , Deakin University, ; Burwood, Victoria Australia
                [5 ]GRID grid.1004.5, ISNI 0000 0001 2158 5405, Department of Biological Sciences, , Macquarie University, ; Sydney, New South Wales Australia
                [6 ]GRID grid.215654.1, ISNI 0000 0001 2151 2636, School of Mathematics and Natural Sciences, , Arizona State University, ; Glendale, AZ USA
                [7 ]GRID grid.6407.5, ISNI 0000 0004 0447 9960, Norwegian Institute for Water Research, ; Oslo, Norway
                [8 ]REV Ocean, Lysaker, Norway
                [9 ]GRID grid.412139.c, ISNI 0000 0001 2191 3608, Sustainability Research Unit, , Nelson Mandela University, ; Port Elizabeth, South Africa
                [10 ]GRID grid.4818.5, ISNI 0000 0001 0791 5666, Wageningen Environmental Research, , Wageningen University, ; Wageningen, The Netherlands
                [11 ]GRID grid.1008.9, ISNI 0000 0001 2179 088X, School of BioSciences, , The University of Melbourne, ; Melbourne, Victoria Australia
                [12 ]GRID grid.17091.3e, ISNI 0000 0001 2288 9830, Institute for Resources, Environment and Sustainability, , University of British Columbia, ; Vancouver, British Columbia Canada
                [13 ]SciTech Environmental Consulting, Vancouver, British Columbia Canada
                [14 ]GRID grid.10420.37, ISNI 0000 0001 2286 1424, BioInvasions, Global Change, Macroecology-Group, Department of Botany and Biodiversity Research, , University of Vienna, ; Vienna, Austria
                [15 ]GRID grid.11956.3a, ISNI 0000 0001 2214 904X, Centre for Invasion Biology, , Stellenbosch University, ; Stellenbosch, South Africa
                [16 ]GRID grid.422378.8, ISNI 0000 0004 0513 477X, NatureServe, ; Arlington, VA USA
                [17 ]GRID grid.266097.c, ISNI 0000 0001 2222 1582, University of California, ; Riverside, CA USA
                [18 ]GRID grid.426106.7, ISNI 0000 0004 0598 2103, Royal Botanic Garden Edinburgh, ; Edinburgh, UK
                [19 ]GRID grid.4305.2, ISNI 0000 0004 1936 7988, School of GeoSciences, , University of Edinburgh, ; Edinburgh, UK
                [20 ]GRID grid.41312.35, ISNI 0000 0001 1033 6040, Departamento de Ecología y Territorio, , Pontificia Universidad Javeriana, ; Bogotá, Colombia
                [21 ]GRID grid.463628.d, ISNI 0000 0000 9533 5073, Scientific Services, , South African National Parks, ; George, South Africa
                [22 ]GRID grid.1047.2, ISNI 0000 0004 0416 0263, Australian Antarctic Division, Department of Climate Change, Energy, the Environment and Water, ; Hobart, Tasmania Australia
                [23 ]GRID grid.35937.3b, ISNI 0000 0001 2270 9879, Department of Life Sciences, , Natural History Museum, ; London, UK
                [24 ]GRID grid.410389.7, ISNI 0000 0001 0943 6642, Instituto Español de Oceanografía, , Centro Oceanográfico de Baleares, ; Palma, Spain
                [25 ]GRID grid.419186.3, ISNI 0000 0001 0747 5306, Manaaki Whenua—Landcare Research, ; Lincoln, New Zealand
                [26 ]GRID grid.8217.c, ISNI 0000 0004 1936 9705, Department of Zoology, School of Natural Sciences, , Trinity College Dublin, ; Dublin, Ireland
                [27 ]GRID grid.22072.35, ISNI 0000 0004 1936 7697, University of Calgary, ; Calgary, Alberta Canada
                [28 ]GRID grid.8391.3, ISNI 0000 0004 1936 8024, College of Life and Environmental Sciences Geography, , University of Exeter, ; Exeter, UK
                [29 ]GRID grid.264756.4, ISNI 0000 0004 4687 2082, Department of Marine Biology, , Texas A&M University, ; Galveston, TX USA
                [30 ]GRID grid.410335.0, ISNI 0000 0001 2288 7106, Hellenic Centre for Marine Research (HCMR), , Institute of Marine Biology, Biotechnology and Aquaculture (IMBBC), ; Heraklion, Greece
                [31 ]GRID grid.449127.d, ISNI 0000 0001 1412 7238, Department of Environment, Faculty of Environment, , Ionian University, ; Zakynthos, Greece
                [32 ]GRID grid.7872.a, ISNI 0000000123318773, School of Biological Earth and Environmental Sciences, , University College Cork, ; Cork, Ireland
                [33 ]GRID grid.263785.d, ISNI 0000 0004 0368 7397, School of Life Sciences, , South China Normal University, ; Guangzhou, China
                [34 ]GRID grid.1025.6, ISNI 0000 0004 0436 6763, Centre for Sustainable Aquatic Ecosystems, , Harry Butler Institute, Murdoch University, ; Perth, Western Australia Australia
                [35 ]GRID grid.20419.3e, ISNI 0000 0001 2242 7273, Institute of Zoology, , Zoological Society of London, ; London, UK
                [36 ]Conservation International Colombia, Bogota, Colombia
                [37 ]GRID grid.509286.0, ISNI 0000 0004 9225 0380, Norwegian Biodiversity Information Centre, ; Trondheim, Norway
                [38 ]GRID grid.9668.1, ISNI 0000 0001 0726 2490, Department of Environmental and Biological Sciences, , University of Eastern Finland, ; Joensuu, Finland
                [39 ]GRID grid.13097.3c, ISNI 0000 0001 2322 6764, Department of Geography, , King’s College London, ; London, UK
                [40 ]GRID grid.1011.1, ISNI 0000 0004 0474 1797, College of Science and Engineering, , James Cook University, ; Townsville, Queensland Australia
                [41 ]GRID grid.4903.e, ISNI 0000 0001 2097 4353, Royal Botanic Gardens Kew, ; Richmond, UK
                [42 ]GRID grid.7870.8, ISNI 0000 0001 2157 0406, Institute of Geography, Department of Ecology, Center of Applied Ecology and Sustainability (CAPES), , Universidad Católica de Chile, ; Santiago, Chile
                [43 ]GRID grid.443909.3, ISNI 0000 0004 0385 4466, Instituto de Ecología y Biodiversidad, ; Santiago, Chile
                [44 ]GRID grid.469370.f, Provita, ; Caracas, Venezuela
                Author information
                http://orcid.org/0000-0002-7627-4150
                http://orcid.org/0000-0002-9554-3395
                http://orcid.org/0000-0003-2199-3446
                http://orcid.org/0000-0002-4361-0189
                http://orcid.org/0000-0001-6220-770X
                http://orcid.org/0000-0002-4473-1636
                http://orcid.org/0000-0002-0693-9532
                http://orcid.org/0000-0003-0314-4598
                http://orcid.org/0000-0003-0665-9300
                http://orcid.org/0000-0001-7809-0446
                http://orcid.org/0000-0002-4268-8072
                http://orcid.org/0000-0001-9831-681X
                http://orcid.org/0000-0002-5588-3520
                http://orcid.org/0000-0002-9340-7461
                http://orcid.org/0000-0002-8938-8181
                http://orcid.org/0000-0002-4698-6448
                http://orcid.org/0000-0002-9143-7480
                http://orcid.org/0000-0002-0641-7152
                http://orcid.org/0000-0003-0075-6169
                http://orcid.org/0000-0003-4891-4357
                http://orcid.org/0000-0002-4008-3053
                http://orcid.org/0000-0002-5513-3615
                Article
                5318
                10.1038/s41586-022-05318-4
                9581774
                36224387
                53f839fd-7a34-4cc5-8893-eda597b99469
                © The Author(s) 2022

                Open Access This article is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License, which permits use, sharing, adaptation, distribution and reproduction in any medium or format, as long as you give appropriate credit to the original author(s) and the source, provide a link to the Creative Commons license, and indicate if changes were made. The images or other third party material in this article are included in the article’s Creative Commons license, unless indicated otherwise in a credit line to the material. If material is not included in the article’s Creative Commons license and your intended use is not permitted by statutory regulation or exceeds the permitted use, you will need to obtain permission directly from the copyright holder. To view a copy of this license, visit http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/4.0/.

                History
                : 20 October 2019
                : 2 September 2022
                Categories
                Article
                Custom metadata
                © The Author(s), under exclusive licence to Springer Nature Limited 2022

                The datasets generated during and/or analysed during the current study are available in the repository: https://osf.io/68syg/
                Environmental economics & Politics,Environmental change,Ecology,Environmental studies,Environmental management, Policy & Planning,Life sciences
                conservation biology,biodiversity,ecosystem ecology
                The datasets generated during and/or analysed during the current study are available in the repository: https://osf.io/68syg/
                Environmental economics & Politics, Environmental change, Ecology, Environmental studies, Environmental management, Policy & Planning, Life sciences
                conservation biology, biodiversity, ecosystem ecology

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