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Research priorities for maintaining biodiversity’s contributions to people in Latin America

  , 1 , 2 , 3 , 3 , 4 , 5 , 6 , 7 , 3 , 8 , 1 , 3 , 9 , 10 , 11 , 12 , 13 ,   14 , 15 , 16 , 3 , 13 , 1 , 17 , 6 ,   18 , 19 , 20 , 21 , 22 , 23 , 24 , 25 , 26 , 27

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ecosystem services, environmental change, capacity building, investment in research, data availability, knowledge systems, governance

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      Abstract

      Maintaining biodiversity is crucial for ensuring human well-being. The authors participated in a workshop held in Palenque, Mexico, in August 2018, that brought together 30 mostly early-career scientists working in different disciplines (natural, social and economic sciences) with the aim of identifying research priorities for studying the contributions of biodiversity to people and how these contributions might be impacted by environmental change. Five main groups of questions emerged: (1) Enhancing the quantity, quality, and availability of biodiversity data; (2) Integrating different knowledge systems; (3) Improved methods for integrating diverse data; (4) Fundamental questions in ecology and evolution; and (5) Multi-level governance across boundaries. We discuss the need for increased capacity building and investment in research programmes to address these challenges.

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      Biodiversity loss and its impact on humanity.

      The most unique feature of Earth is the existence of life, and the most extraordinary feature of life is its diversity. Approximately 9 million types of plants, animals, protists and fungi inhabit the Earth. So, too, do 7 billion people. Two decades ago, at the first Earth Summit, the vast majority of the world's nations declared that human actions were dismantling the Earth's ecosystems, eliminating genes, species and biological traits at an alarming rate. This observation led to the question of how such loss of biological diversity will alter the functioning of ecosystems and their ability to provide society with the goods and services needed to prosper.
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        TRY – a global database of plant traits

        Plant traits – the morphological, anatomical, physiological, biochemical and phenological characteristics of plants and their organs – determine how primary producers respond to environmental factors, affect other trophic levels, influence ecosystem processes and services and provide a link from species richness to ecosystem functional diversity. Trait data thus represent the raw material for a wide range of research from evolutionary biology, community and functional ecology to biogeography. Here we present the global database initiative named TRY, which has united a wide range of the plant trait research community worldwide and gained an unprecedented buy-in of trait data: so far 93 trait databases have been contributed. The data repository currently contains almost three million trait entries for 69 000 out of the world's 300 000 plant species, with a focus on 52 groups of traits characterizing the vegetative and regeneration stages of the plant life cycle, including growth, dispersal, establishment and persistence. A first data analysis shows that most plant traits are approximately log-normally distributed, with widely differing ranges of variation across traits. Most trait variation is between species (interspecific), but significant intraspecific variation is also documented, up to 40% of the overall variation. Plant functional types (PFTs), as commonly used in vegetation models, capture a substantial fraction of the observed variation – but for several traits most variation occurs within PFTs, up to 75% of the overall variation. In the context of vegetation models these traits would better be represented by state variables rather than fixed parameter values. The improved availability of plant trait data in the unified global database is expected to support a paradigm shift from species to trait-based ecology, offer new opportunities for synthetic plant trait research and enable a more realistic and empirically grounded representation of terrestrial vegetation in Earth system models.
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          Synergies among extinction drivers under global change.

          If habitat destruction or overexploitation of populations is severe, species loss can occur directly and abruptly. Yet the final descent to extinction is often driven by synergistic processes (amplifying feedbacks) that can be disconnected from the original cause of decline. We review recent observational, experimental and meta-analytic work which together show that owing to interacting and self-reinforcing processes, estimates of extinction risk for most species are more severe than previously recognised. As such, conservation actions which only target single-threat drivers risk being inadequate because of the cascading effects caused by unmanaged synergies. Future work should focus on how climate change will interact with and accelerate ongoing threats to biodiversity, such as habitat degradation, overexploitation and invasive species.
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            Author and article information

            Affiliations
            [1 ]Centre for Biodiversity and Environment Research, Department of Genetics, Evolution and Environment, University College London, London, UK
            [2 ]Departamento de Zoología, Instituto de Biología, Universidad Nacional Autónoma de México, Ciudad de México, Mexico
            [3 ]Centro del Cambio Global y la Sustentabilidad AC, Villahermosa, Mexico
            [4 ]Instituto Multidisciplinario de Biología Vegetal (IMBIV), Universidad Nacional de Córdoba (UNC), CONICET, Córdoba, Argentina
            [5 ]Procesos y Sistemas de Información en Geomática, SA de CV. Calle 5 Viveros de Peten No. 18, Col. Viveros del Valle, Tlalnepantla, CP 54060, Edo. de Mex, Mexico
            [6 ]Land, Environment, Economics and Policy Institute, University of Exeter Business School, Xfi Building, Rennes Drive, Exeter, UK
            [7 ]Instituto de Ecología y Biodiversidad, Casilla 653, Santiago, Chile
            [8 ]Department of Zoology, University of Oxford, Oxford, UK
            [9 ]Instituto de Diversidad y Ecología Animal (IDEA), Universidad Nacional de Córdoba, Consejo Nacional de Investigaciones Científicas y Técnicas (CONICET), Córdoba, Argentina
            [10 ]Instituto de Ecología, A.C. Carretera antigua a Coatepec 351, Col. El Haya, Xalapa, Veracruz, Mexico
            [11 ]Department of Geography, Ludwig Maximilian University of Munich, Munich, Germany
            [12 ]Universidad Academia de Humanismo Cristiano, Escuela de Geografía, Condell 343, Providencia. Santiago, Chile
            [13 ]International Institute for Applied Systems Analysis (IIASA), Schloßpl. 1, Laxenburg, 2361, Vienna, Austria
            [14 ]Institute for Sustainable Resources, University College London, London, UK; Current address: Global Water Institute, University of New South Wales, Sydney, Australia
            [15 ]Department of Animal and Plant Sciences, University of Sheffield, Sheffield, UK
            [16 ]Laboratorio de Estudios del Antropoceno, Facultad de Ciencias Forestales, Universidad de Concepción, Chile
            [17 ]Organismal and Evolutionary Biology Research Programme, Research Centre for Ecological Change, University of Helsinki, Helsinki, Finland
            [18 ]Departamento de Biología Evolutiva, Facultad de Ciencias, Museo de Zoología, Universidad Nacional Autónoma de México, México City, Mexico
            [19 ]Centro de Estudios e Investigación en Desarrollo Sustentable, Universidad Autónoma del Estado de México, Toluca, Mexico
            [20 ]Sustainability Research Institute, School of Earth and Environment, University of Leeds, Leeds, UK
            [21 ]Department of Biology, University of York, York, UK
            [22 ]Instituto de Conservación, Biodiversidad y Territorio, Facultad de Ciencias Forestales y Recursos Naturales, Universidad Austral de Chile, Valdivia, Chile
            [23 ]Centro de Ciencia del Clima y la Resiliencia, Facultad de Ciencias Físicas y Matemáticas, Universidad de Chile, Santiago, Chile
            [24 ]NASCA Conservation Program, The Nature Conservancy, Bogotá, Colombia
            [25 ]Instituto Multidisciplinario de Biología Vegetal, CONICET and Universidad Nacional de Córdoba, Córdoba, Argentina
            [26 ]Departamento de Ecología, Facultad de Ciencias Biológicas, Pontificia Universidad Católica de Chile, Chile
            [27 ]Instituto de Ecología y Biodiversidad (IEB), Laboratorio Internacional en Cambio Global (LINCGlobal), Centro de Cambio Global UC (PUCGlobal), The Santa Fe Institute, and Centro de Ciencias de la Complejidad (C3), Universidad Autónoma de México, Mexico
            Author notes
            Corresponding author: Richard G. Pearson, Centre for Biodiversity and Environment Research, Department of Genetics, Evolution and Environment, University College London, London, UK; Email: richard.pearson@ 123456ucl.ac.uk
            Journal
            ucloe
            ucloe
            UCL Open Environment
            UCLOE
            UCL Press (UK )
            2632-0886
            08 August 2019
            : 1
            : 1-4
            10.14324/111.444/ucloe.000002
            Copyright © 2019 The Authors.

            This is an open access article distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution License (CC BY) 4.0 https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/4.0/, which permits unrestricted use, distribution and reproduction in any medium, provided the original author and source are credited.

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            Tables: 1, References: 12, Pages: 4
            Categories
            Research Article

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