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Global Ecology and Conservation

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Ecosystem services -- Social aspects, Interdisciplinary research


Scientists, policy makers, and managers use ecosystem services and biodiversity metrics to inform management goals of novel ecosystems. Fragmented knowledge of the ecosystem services provided by novel ecosystems contributes to disagreement over these systems and how they should be managed. To address this gap, we conducted a systematic review of refereed articles to understand how novel ecosystems have changed ecosystem services and biodiversity. Despite anthropogenic drivers of change, we found that the literature on novel ecosystems is focused on ecological rather than social aspects of novel systems. Our review highlights the frequency that novel ecosystems enhance both ecosystem services and biodiversity. More than two-thirds of studies reported biodiversity equal to or above the reference state, while the portion of studies reporting increased cultural, provisioning, and regulating services was even greater. Still, we urge caution in interpreting these trends, as they exist in part due to degraded ecosystem baselines and inconsistent framing. Finally, the wide range of management recommendations we reviewed reflects both the diversity of novel ecosystems and substantial disagreement among researchers and managers about what novel ecosystems actually mean for society.


© 2018 The Authors. Published by Elsevier B.V. This is an open access article under the CC BY-NC-ND license (



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