There are very, if any, ecosystems on Earth that are not substantially influenced by human activities. In most ecosystems, humans have changed many abiotic and biotic components, for example by changing disturbance or nutrient regimes and by adding or removing species. In many cases, the ecosystems that currently exist have no historical analogues; this greatly complicates the task of managers who seek to conserve local, regional and global biodiversity and to ensure the sustainable delivery of ecosystem services.
C·I·B alumnus James Rodger is a co-author on a recently published study that traces the invasion history of fire weed (Senecio madagascariensis) in Australia, using DNA from herbarium specimens dating back to its introduction, as well as present-day collections. This is one of the first studies to use this approach.
Nature provides us with benefits such as fresh water, food, climate regulation, nutrient recycling and a sense of place. These benefits, also known as “ecosystem services”, are critical for our well-being and underpin any future development. Despite an increase in research on ecosystem services, and how these services link to development, it would seem that there is still a gap between ecosystem service research and the implementation of management activities on the ground.