What are evosystem services?

Measures of biodiversity should reflect current and future services -  the "option values" associated with overall biodiversity.

These “evosystem services” are provided by evolutionary processes.

From the Summary of our paper in Current Opinion in Environmental Sustainability

"Evosystem Services: an Evolutionary Perspective on the Links Between Biodiversity and Human Well-Being"

Daniel P. Faith, Susana Magallón, Andrew P. Hendry, Elena Conti , Tetsukazu Yahara, and Michael J. Donoghue

A framework for exploring regional-scale trade-offs among ecosystem services and biodiversity protection has been established for some time, and it is clear that optimizing these trade-offs provides a strategy to address targets for a reduced rate of biodiversity loss. Recent trade-off studies have highlighted the need for better biodiversity measures, to complement measures of ecosystem services.

Biodiversity typically has been linked in this context to existence and other non-use values.We argue that biodiversity will have a stronger role in such trade-off analyses if measures of biodiversity better reflect additional current and future services. These “evosystem services” have been, and, if we are careful, can continue to be provided by the evolutionary process.

Some services have been provided through evolution operating in the past, and a phylogenetic diversity measure can help us to quantify these current and potential future benefits derived from the tree of life. Furthermore, a variety of evosystem services are delivered through ongoing contemporary evolution, and value should therefore be placed on the maintenance of healthy evosystems.

We argue that the concept of evosystem services could be useful as a complement to the traditional concept of ecosystem services. Together, these reflect a fuller range of the services supported by biodiversity, and thereby provide a sounder basis for conservation planning and decision-making.

Please cite this article as:

Faith DP, S Magallón, AP Hendry, E Conti , T Yahara, and MJ. Donoghue (2010) Evosystem services: an evolutionary perspective on the links between biodiversity and human well-being, Current Opinion in Environmental Sustainability 2 (2010) pp. 66-74. doi:10.1016/j.cosust.2010.04.002


for an example of phylogenetic tipping points, see PLoS ONE

see commentary in IUCN’s Science Bulletin, August 2010

See also slides from talk at the International Workshop, in São Paulo, Brazil, on Applied Ecology and Human Dimensions in Conservation Biology, organised by the Biota Program of São Paulo Science Foundation (FAPESP)


See also the news item at Netzwerk-Forum zur Biodiversitätsforschung Deutschland

Dr Dan Faith , Senior Principal Research Scientist email:danfaith8[at]yahoo.com.au
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