The missing link: Incorporating the role of biological diversity into projections of ecosystem services
Modeling interactions between human and ecological systems is needed to identify pathways to meet multiple United Nations Sustainable Development Goals. Particularly important is the relationship between biodiversity, ecological processes, and ecosystem services. However, current models tend to ignore impacts of biodiversity on ecological processes. Existing models capture impacts of socio-economic activities on biodiversity or ecosystem services, but critically, links between biodiversity and ecosystem services are only weakly incorporated in most projections and hence in policy design. Knowledge of these relationships has improved, but is scattered across the literature, as are models addressing each component. Because communities of practice for these modeling domains typically operate independently, there is no understanding of how to link models across the respective domains, limiting the integration of the relationship between biodiversity and ecosystem services into broader coupled socio-environmental system models. Model integration strategies are needed to catalyze researchers to undertake this task. We will bring these communities together to develop strategies to link biodiversity and ecosystem service models. We will focus on links between biodiversity and key ecological processes underpinning ecosystem services, considering the broader context needed to produce socio-economic and socio-environmental scenarios and projections. We will build on previous work to identify ways to couple existing models and demonstrate feasibility with two independent case study approaches. One will enhance the biodiversity - ecosystem process relationship in models that already encode some aspects of biodiversity, while the other will introduce empirical relationships between biodiversity and ecosystem processes into a model of whole ecosystem structure and function.