Ecosystem as a place to rest and source for biodiversity. Photo: Roland Krämer/UFZ

Department of Ecosystem Services

How do we define and apply the concept of "ecosystem services"? What functions do ecosystems have? How are they linked to human well-being? How can biodiversity science bridge to society and vice versa?

Our research in the Department for Ecosystem Services encompasses three interlinked thems: We investigate patterns of spatio-temporal configuration of biodiversity and ecosystem service flows in socio-ecological systems at different scales. This includes the assessment of risks of ecosystem services provision and potential capacity boundaries with respect to land use and socio-economic drivers. Secondly, we explore the interrelationship of biodiversity, ecosystem function processes, and components of ecosystem services. Thirdly, we seek to operationalise the ecosystem approach by developing effective strategies and tools to safeguard biodiversity and ecosystem services in a changing world.

As our research focusses on ecosystem services, a concept linking biodiversity and human well-being, we naturally work at the science-society interface. This means collaborating across disciplines and political sectors to facilitate meaningful and participatory knowledge exchange processes. We use experiments and studies at the landscape level, analyses of large databases with multivariate statistics, modelling and geospatial analysis employing geographical information systems (GIS), as well as transdisciplinary workshops, focus groups, interviews and citizen science approaches. Our team is actively involved in the Intergovernmental Platform on Biodiversity and Ecosystem Services (IPBES) and the development of the German Ecosystem Service Partnership (ESP-DE). Working with partners from other research institutions, learned societies and NGOs, we are developing a citizen science strategy and citizen science capacities for Germany (GEWISS project) to encourage innovative approaches to science.

With our research we aim to make an active contribution to reaching national and international biodiversity targets.