Navigation mit Access Keys

WSL HomeBiodiversityEcosystem services

Ecosystem services

Main menu


Ecosystems fulfil important functions which are also beneficial to humans. We examine how biodiversity affects the functions and services of ecosystems and what the consequences of changes in biodiversity are.


The services an ecosystem provides "for humans", are called ecosystem services. Ecosystems fulfil a range of important functions. They produce biomass, filter and store water, ensure the pollination of plants, and convert and break down organic and inorganic substances, thereby maintaining the fertility of soils.

Many of these processes are directly beneficial to humans. Forests and wetlands store CO2, we benefit from drinking water filtered by forest soils, we can harvest fruit and vegetables thanks to pollination by insects, and enjoy fresh air and relaxation in forests. The forest also protects us from floods and natural hazards like rockfall and avalanches.

People shape ecosystems

Humans not only benefit, they also influence ecosystems: land use and climate change have profound effects on ecosystem functions and services, as biodiversity is important for the stability of ecosystems. Intensive land use reduces biodiversity and can have a negative impact on important ecosystem services, such as crop pollination or natural control of pests.

We examine how biodiversity affects the functions and services of ecosystems. In our work, we consider changes in land use, natural disturbances and climatic change. Using statistical models, we predict future developments of ecosystems and study whether ecosystem services will be affected.


Related topics

Protection forest

In the mountains, protection from natural hazards such as avalanches is the forests’ foremost function. We investigate what it takes to maintain it.

Soil stability

The vegetation can prevent erosion and landslides. We investigate how plants and mycorrhizal fungi stabilise soil.

Forest management and forest functions

How does forest develop, and how can we use it without affecting its essential processes and services?

Landscapes for health and recreation

Landscapes with high recreational values contribute to human health and well-being. We study the features of these types of landscapes.