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Assessing Functional Biodiversity for the Future of Plants, Planet, and People

Alexandra Loker, University of Nebraska - Lincoln


Biodiversity plays a critical role in supporting life in global ecosystems and its links to ecosystem services and sustainability are recognized by scientific and non-scientific communities. Growing awareness of the importance of biodiversity is accelerated by discussions of its loss, and how to design interventions to conserve and mitigate a biodiversity crisis. Stakeholders are funding and implementing assessment strategies at various scales to help direct conservation efforts. There is also growing interest in measuring and communicating biodiversity outcomes. Functional biodiversity characterizes the multiplicity of life forms into groups based on their diverse contributions to natural and agro-ecosystems. Assessing functional biodiversity can elucidate mechanisms of relationships among species and ecosystems to help explain and predict ecosystem processes. Functional biodiversity assessments involve defining the purposes, ecosystem functions and traits to measure; how to put relative weights on each trait and create indices; and exploring how these can be used to evaluate agroecosystems and forests. Case studies from both agroecosystems and forest systems are presented along with a discussion of barriers and opportunities in designing and implementing functional biodiversity assessments. Participation from three stakeholder groups is discussed as a method to include relevant human dimensions and achieve more robust and effective conservation outcomes from functional biodiversity assessments.

Subject Area

Plant sciences|Agriculture|Forestry|Ecology

Recommended Citation

Loker, Alexandra, "Assessing Functional Biodiversity for the Future of Plants, Planet, and People" (2023). ETD collection for University of Nebraska - Lincoln. AAI30426350.