This site is about humans surviving on Earth, only due to the services provided by organisms we share the planet with.
It is a series of posts which focus on a particular organism or group of organisms which provide a service to us humans, allowing us to breathe, drink, eat, maintain our body temperature, not get heat stroke, not get swept away in a flood, not get burnt to a crisp by a bushfire etc.
I am sure you have all read articles about how some weird frog, for example, in some place you have never visited is going extinct, and thought "I have my own problems and I don't have time for this." Hopefully after reading the case studies in this site, you will have a better idea of what that frog, or fish, or insect, or fern or whatever does for you, and how much less we will be if we lose it. References will be provided but this site will try to avoid jargon and technobabble as much as possible. A glossary will be provided when technical terms just cannot be avoided. If a word has a dotted underline, hover the cursor over the word and a definition will popup.
If you want a quick refresher on ecosystem basics, please see this page (will open in a new window)
Ecosystem services and what they mean for us
Ecosystem services are the benefits people obtain from ecosystems
- according to the Millennium Ecosystem Assessment.
Ecosystem service examples and their classification
Ecologists recognise 4 different types of service provided.1
Provisional – these are tangible goods that people can harvest from the environment such as food, wood , fibre, water and fuel.
Regulating – these are regulating services that occur in the ecosystem that lead to benefits such as climate regulation, flood management, and water filtration.
Cultural – these include ways in which nature impacts on people’s health, both physical and mental, through recreational and education benefits
Supporting – ecosystems could not function without supporting services, such as nutrient cycling, soil formation and habitat provision for biodiversity, forming the basis for the other three types of services.
- Department of the Environment, Water, Heritage and the Arts (2009). Ecosystem Services: Key Concepts and Applications, Occasional Paper No 1, Department of the Environment, Water, Heritage and the Arts, Canberra.
- What are Ecosystem Services?
- Recognising ecosystem service value or how to get people to give a sh*t about the environment
Ecosystem services explainer video
If you liked the video above, and wish to see more vids made by the same group (Californian Academy of Sciences), you can visit their page complete with interactive videos, or see their play list on YouTube. Speaking of YouTube, if you like learning by watching videos and decide to search YT for other videos on ecosystem services, make sure that you research the author(s) to check their qualifications and authenticity.
Congrats on reaching the bottom of the page. Now onto the cases! Read as many as you feel like, in any order you feel like, but I do recommend reading the Start here info first as it informs the rest of the cases.
- ECOSYSTEM SERVICES: KEY CONCEPTS AND APPLICATIONS