Publication Details

Category Text Publication
Reference Category Journals
DOI 10.1016/j.agsy.2023.103659
Licence creative commons licence
Title (Primary) From functional diversity to human well-being: A conceptual framework for agroecosystem sustainability
Author de la Riva, E.G.; Ulrich, W.; Batáry, P.; Baudry, J.; Beaumelle, L.; Bucher, R.; Čerevková, A.; Felipe-Lucia, M.R.; Gallé, R.; Kesse-Guyot, E.; Rembiałkowska, E.; Rusch, A.; Seufert, V.; Stanley, D.; Birkhofer, K.
Journal Agricultural Systems
Year 2023
Department iDiv; ESS
Volume 208
Page From art. 103659
Language englisch
Topic T5 Future Landscapes
Keywords Agroecosystem health; Biodiversity; Ecosystem function; Ecosystem service; Food production; Human health


Agricultural intensification contributes to global food security and well-being by supplying the food demand of a growing human population. However, ongoing land-use change and intensification seriously affect the abundance, diversity and distribution of species, besides many other impacts, thereby threatening the functioning of ecosystems worldwide. Despite the accumulating evidence that the current agricultural model is unsustainable, we are far from understanding the consequences of functional diversity loss for functioning and ecosystem service supply and the potential long-term threats to food security and human well-being.


In this review, we propose a conceptual framework to understand the relationships between functional diversity and human well-being that also considers agroecosystem health. To this end, we identify the most commonly assumed relationships linking functional diversity to regulating and provisioning agroecosystem services and their importance for human well-being, emphasising the most serious knowledge gaps in the individual pathways of the conceptual framework.


A consortium formed by an international panel of experts from different disciplines including functional diversity, ecosystem services and human health compiled 275 articles. Members of the consortium proposed literature to exemplify each specific aspect of the conceptual framework in the text, in accordance with his/her field of expertise. The guideline for all experts was to focus mostly in current literature (38% of the references are from the last 5 years and 66% from the last decade), with special interest in reviews and synthesis articles (42% of the references), as well as meta-analyses and global studies (10% of the references).


The factors that influence agroecosystem health are extremely complex, involving both services and disservices related to land-use management and environmental conditions. The global human population needs sustainable and resilient agroecosystems and a concerted effort is needed to fundamentally redesign agricultural practices to feed the growing human population without further jeopardising the quality of life for future generations. We highlight the potential effects of land-use change and ecological intensification on the functional diversity of plant and animal communities, and the resulting consequences for ecosystem services and ultimately human health.


The resulting conceptual model is developed for researchers as well as policy makers highlighting the need for a holistic approach to understand diversity impacts on human well-being. Finally, we document a major knowledge gap due to the lack of any studies focusing on the full pathway from diversity to human well-being.

Persistent UFZ Identifier
de la Riva, E.G., Ulrich, W., Batáry, P., Baudry, J., Beaumelle, L., Bucher, R., Čerevková, A., Felipe-Lucia, M.R., Gallé, R., Kesse-Guyot, E., Rembiałkowska, E., Rusch, A., Seufert, V., Stanley, D., Birkhofer, K. (2023):
From functional diversity to human well-being: A conceptual framework for agroecosystem sustainability
Agric. Syst. 208 , art. 103659