Ecosystem Services

Rivers, streams and groundwater systems – replenished by rainfall – produce water that sustains all living things. Pollination allows fruit trees to produce fruit and other agricultural crops to grow. Forests sequester carbon, provide timber for wood products, and serve as home for wildlife.  Fisheries are a source of food for humans and other species, and estuaries serve as nurseries for fish, shell fish and other marine life.  All living creatures depend on such “ecosystem services” or the regular functioning of natural systems that contribute separate but connected strands in the web of life.  Diverse and healthy ecosystems and the services they provide are key to sustaining life on Earth.


  • Daily, Gretchen Featured Article Daily, Gretchen Daily, Gretchen

    Gretchen C. Daily is Associate Professor in the Department of Biological Sciences, Director of the Tropical Research Program of the Center for Conservation Biology, and a Senior... More »

  • Pollination Featured Article Pollination Pollination

    Pollination in angiosperms and gymnosperms is the process that transfers pollen grains, which contain the male gametes (sperm) to where the female gamete(s) are contained... More »

  • Review: Forest restoration Featured Article Review: Forest restoration Review: Forest restoration

    This Review, written by Raf Aerts and Olivier Honnay*, appeared first in BioMed Central Ecology—a peer-reviewed, open access journal. This review article is part of the... More »

  • What is pollination Featured Article What is pollination What is pollination

    Pollination is the act of transferring pollen grains from the male anther of a flower to the female stigma. The goal of every living organism, including plants, is to create... More »

  • Agriculture I Featured Photo Gallery Agriculture I Agriculture I

    Humans began to cultivate food crops about 10,000 years ago. Prior to that time, hunter-gatherers secured their food as they traveled in the nearby environment. When they... More »

  • Agriculture II Featured Photo Gallery Agriculture II Agriculture II

    Humans began to cultivate food crops about 10,000 years ago. Prior to that time, hunter-gatherers secured their food as they traveled in the nearby environment. When they... More »

  • Spiral Pine Needle Cookstove Featured Article Spiral Pine Needle Cookstove Spiral Pine Needle Cookstove

    Spiral Pine Needle Cookstove Challenge In Uttrakand, India, wood fuel is a scarce commodity, as it is illegal to cut branches from the government-owned pine trees. The... More »

Recently Updated
Challenges of modeling and valuing of ecosystem services Last Updated on 2014-07-02 11:36:10 The Millennium Ecosystem Assessment (MA) has outlined a clear logic: natural resources provide ecosystem services that contribute to human well-being, from nutrient cycling and carbon sequestration to recreational experiences. These ecosystem services are under constant threat from human activities. Through their actions, humans realise economic gains but also decrease their chances of enjoying sustained well-being for future as well as current generations. Economics can help integrate such losses of ecosystem services into decision making, by clarifying the synergies and trade-offs that come from land and ecosystem management. However, the science of ecosystem services is still in its infancy and methods vary wildly. One result of the MA process is that the popularity of the ecosystem services concept has taken flight, both in science and policy-making. This is due to its... More »
National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA), United States Last Updated on 2014-06-30 19:00:15 The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) is a federal agency within the United States Department of Commerce.  As a science-based operational agency tasked with monitoring climate and changes in the environment, NOAA is responsible for the study of the atmosphere and the oceans.  The agency issues daily weather forecasts and storm warnings, restores coastline, aids the flow of marine commerce, and manages fisheries.  NOAA's activities facilitate weather- and climate-sensitive economic activity that account for roughly one-third of the country's gross domestic product (GDP)[1]. The agency also responds to natural and man-made maritime disasters, operates a complex network of oceanographic, meteorological and atmospheric data-collecting products and services, and manages marine mammals, marine endangered... More »
Ecosystems and Human Well-Being: Volume 1: Current State and Trends: Urban Systems Last Updated on 2014-06-28 17:05:25 This is Chapter 27 of the Millenium Ecosystem Assessment report Ecosystems and Human Well-Being: Volume 1: Current State and Trends Coordinating Lead Authors: Gordon McGranahan, Peter Marcotullio Lead Authors: Xuemei Bai, Deborah Balk, Tania Braga, Ian Douglas, Thomas Elmqvist, William Rees, David Satterthwaite, Jacob Songsore, Hania Zlotnik Review Editors: Jerry Eades, Exequiel Ezcurra Main Messages Urbanization and urban growth continue to be major demographic trends. The world’s urban population increased from about 200 million (~15% of world population) in 1900 to 2.9 billion (~50% of world population) in 2000, and the number of cities with populations in excess of 1 million increased from 17 in 1900 to 388 in 2000. As people are increasingly living in cities, and as cities act as both human ecosystem habitats and drivers of ecosystem change, it will become increasingly... More »
Carpenter bee Last Updated on 2014-06-26 17:31:14 This hexapod (six-legged) insect is a bee in the subfamily Xylocoinae of either the genus Ceratina or Xylocopa that makes its nest in wood or plant stems. Along with bumble bee queens, carpenter bees (genus Xylocopa) are the largest native bees in the United States. There are numerous species of carpenter bees that inhabit a broad range of ecosystems from tropical to subtropical to temperate. In the United States carpenters bees can be found across the southern United States from Arizona to Florida and in the eastern United States, north to New York. These gentle giants get their name from their life history habits of excavating precisely rounded galleries inside wood. Using their broad, strong mandibles (jaws), they chew into dead but non-decayed limbs or trunks of standing dead trees. Some species, like the eastern Xylocopa virginica, occasionally take up residence... More »
Peat Last Updated on 2014-06-24 17:43:39 Peat is the partially decomposed remains of plant material, especially sphagnum moss. It is found in a wetlands environment where the addition of new plant material is faster than the decomposition of the accumulated plant material. A number of essential conditions that contribute to peat formation is provided in a wetlands: the plant material remains waterlogged, the temperature is low and there is a lack of oxygen both of which slow decomposition. “Wetlands” include floodplains, marshes, swamps, and coastal wetlands. Peat is the first material formed in the process that transforms plant matter into coal. As coal formation progresses, volatile materials like water are driven off, and the percentage of carbon content of the material increases, making it increasingly dense and hard. The majority of the peat harvested is called reed-sedge peat. The other harvested... More »