What evidence exists on how changes in marine ecosystem structure and functioning affect ecosystem services delivery? A systematic map
The current biodiversity crisis underscores the urgent need for sustainable management of the human uses of nature. In the context of sustainability management, adopting the ecosystem service (ES) concept, i.e., the benefits humans obtain from nature, can support decisions aimed at benefiting both nature and people. However, marine ecosystems in particular endure numerous direct drivers of change (i.e., habitat loss and degradation, overexploitation, pollution, climate change, and introduction of non-indigenous species) all of which threaten ecosystem structure, functioning, and the provision of ES. Marine ecosystems have received less attention than terrestrial ecosystems in ES literature, and knowledge on marine ES is hindered by the highly heterogeneous scientific literature with regard to the different types of marine ecosystem, ES, and their correlates. Here, we constructed a systematic map of the existing literature to highlight knowledge clusters and knowledge gaps on how changes in marine ecosystems influence the provision of marine ES.
We searched for all evidence documenting how changes in structure and functioning of marine ecosystems affect the delivery of ES in academic and grey literature sources. In addition to Scopus, Web of Science, and Google Scholar, we searched 6 online databases from intergovernmental agencies, supranational or national organizations, and NGOs. We screened English-language documents using predefined inclusion criteria on titles, abstracts, and then full texts, without any geographic or temporal limitations. All qualifying literature was coded and metadata were extracted. No formal validity appraisal was undertaken. We identified knowledge clusters and gaps in terms of which ecosystem types, biodiversity components, or ES types have been studied and how these categories are linked.
Our searches identified 41 884 articles published since 1968 of which 12 140 were duplicates; 25 747 articles were excluded at the title-screening stage, then 2774 at the abstract stage. After full-text screening, a total of 653 articles—having met the eligibility criteria—were included in the final database, spanning from 1977 to July 2021. The number of studies was unevenly distributed across geographic boundaries, ecosystem types, ES, and types of pressure.
The most studied ecosystems were pelagic ecosystems on continental shelves and intertidal ecosystems, and deep-sea habitats and ice-associated ecosystems were the least studied. Food provision was the major focus of ES articles across all types of marine ecosystem (67%), followed by climate regulation (28%), and recreation (14%). Biophysical values were assessed in 91% of the analysed articles, 30% assessed economic values, but only 3% assessed socio-cultural values. Regarding the type of impact on ecosystems, management effects were the most studied, followed by overexploitation and climate change (with increase in seawater temperature being the most commonly assessed climate change pressure). Lastly, the introduction of non-indigenous species and deoxygenation were the least studied.
This systematic map provides, in addition to a database, knowledge gaps and clusters on how marine ecosystem changes impact ES provision. The current lack of knowledge is a threat to the sustainability of human actions and knowledge-based nature conservation. The knowledge gaps and clusters highlighted here could guide future research and impact the beneficial development of policy and management practices.
Ecosystem disservices, Coastal, Marine, Biodiversity, Nature’s contribution to people, Spatio-temporal dynamics
We will search for all evidence documenting how changes in structure and functioning of marine ecosystems affect the delivery of ES, across scientific and grey literature sources. Two bibliographic databases, Scopus and Web of Science Core Collection, will be used with a supplementary search undertaken in Google scholar. Multiple organisational websites related to intergovernmental agencies, supra-national or national structures, and NGOs will also be searched. Searches will be performed with English terms only without any geographic or temporal limitations. Literature screening, against predefined inclusion criteria, will be undertaken on title, abstract, and then full texts. All qualifying literature will be subjected to coding and meta-data extraction. No formal validity appraisal will be undertaken. Indeed, the map will highlight how marine ecosystem changes impact the ES provided. Knowledge gaps will be identified in terms of which ecosystem types, biodiversity components, or ES types are most or least studied and how these categories are correlated. Finally, a database will be provided, we will narratively describe this evidence base with summary figures and tables of pertinent study characteristics.
The current biodiversity crisis calls for an urgent need to sustainably manage human uses of nature. The Ecosystem Services (ES) concept defined as « the benefits humans obtain from nature » support decisions aimed at promoting nature conservation. However, marine ecosystems, in particular, endure numerous direct pressures (e.g., habitat loss and degradation, overexploitation, pollution, climate change, and the introduction of non-indigenous species) all of which threaten ecosystem structure, functioning, and the very provision of ES. While marine ecosystems often receive less attention than terrestrial ecosystems in ES literature, it would also appear that there is a heterogeneity of knowledge within marine ecosystems and within the different ES provided. Hence, a systematic map on the existing literature will aim to highlight knowledge clusters and knowledge gaps on how changes in marine ecosystems influence the provision of marine ecosystem services. This will provide an evidence base for possible future reviews, and may help to inform eventual management and policy decision-making.