NSF Forum to Address "Ecosystem Services" in a Changing World
Results from Long-Term Ecological Research show importance of resources and processes supplied by ecosystems
Humans are sustained by a multitude of processes and resources in the environment around us. These benefits are called "ecosystem services," and include products like clean drinking water and the provision of foods such as crops and spices.
On Thursday, March 4, the National Science Foundation (NSF) will host a symposium titled, "Ecosystem Services in a Changing World: Perspectives from Long-Term Ecological Research." The meeting is the ninth such annual NSF symposium to address topics in long-term ecological research (LTER).
Ecosystem services are grouped into four main categories: provisioning, such as the production of food and water; regulating, as in control of climate and disease; supporting, such as nutrient cycles and crop pollination; and cultural, including spiritual and recreational benefits.
As human populations grow, so do our demands on these ecosystem services. Our global footprint is becoming ever larger, with increasing impacts on the benefits ecosystems provide.
It's important, say LTER and other scientists, to understand how ecosystem services are responding in a changing world, so these ecosystems may be managed in ways that sustain life on Earth.
Presentations at the symposium will address ecosystem services in agricultural systems, in temperate forest harvest systems and in residential landscapes. Also covered will be subjects such as changing urban water supplies in the tropics, the impacts of marine reserves on fisheries, and the implications of wildfires on human subsistence.
Scientists from several of NSF's 26 LTER sites will talk about new ways of conducting research on--and thinking about--ecosystem services.
NSF's LTER network spans the Arctic to the Antarctic to the tropics. The sites represent Earth's major ecosystems, and include grasslands, forests, tundra, urban areas, agricultural systems, freshwater lakes, coastal estuaries and salt marshes, coral reefs, coastal zones and the open sea.
The National Science Foundation (NSF) is an independent federal agency that supports fundamental research and education across all fields of science and engineering. In fiscal year (FY) 2016, its budget is $7.5 billion. NSF funds reach all 50 states through grants to nearly 2,000 colleges, universities and other institutions. Each year, NSF receives more than 48,000 competitive proposals for funding and makes about 12,000 new funding awards. NSF also awards about $626 million in professional and service contracts yearly.
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