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.
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.