Document: Evosystem services

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A pre-print of: Faith DP, et al. 2010. Evosystem services: an evolutionary perspective on the links between biodiversity and human well-being,  Current Opinion in Environmental Sustainability 2010, 2:66–74

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In this paper we argue that an evolutionary perspective is essential for developing a better understanding of the links between biodiversity and human well-being. We outline the services provided by evolutionary processes, and propose a new term, ‘evosystem services’, to refer to these many connections to humans. We have chosen this term intentionally to prompt comparisons and contrasts with the well-known concept of ‘ecosystem services’. The idea of ecosystem services has already been useful. Clearly, it helps people to understand the connection between the maintenance of healthy ecosystems and their key services to humans: provisioning of the basics of life (food, wood, etc.), regulating the earth system (climate, water, etc.), and providing cultural elements (beauty, education, etc.). We believe that the idea of evosystem services could prove equally useful. Just as maintaining healthy ecosystems ensures the availability of clean water and other ecosystem services into the future, maintaining healthy evosystems will ensure that other crucial services are available into the future. ‘Evosystem services’ provides us with a useful handle in reflecting values that are not very naturally accommodated by the concept of ecosystem services, including the capacity for future evolutionary change and the continued discovery of useful products in the vast biodiversity storehouse that has resulted from evolution in the past. In this sense, ‘evosystem services’ and ‘ecosystem services’ are complementary. Together, the two capture a wider variety of the values that we associate with ecosystems and biodiversity.

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