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The University of Southampton
Sustainability Science

Biodiversity and ecosystem services


At a very fundamental level, all ecosystem services are underpinned by biodiversity. However, research is on-going on what components of biodiversity underpin specific ecosystem services, and how these stocks of biodiversity link to the human beneficiaries of ecosystem services.

At the University of Southampton, research on these linkages between ecosystem services and biodiversity is led by the Institute of Life Sciences (IfLS), and researchers in Sustainability Science.

Coral Reef Ecosystem, NE Madagascar
Coral Reef Ecosystem, NE Madagascar

 Current Biodiversity and Ecosystem Services research projects


1. Coastal BESS project 2012- 2016

Academics from Ocean and Earth Sciences have joined together with academics and stakeholders across the UK to deliver this consortium which is funded by NERC's BESS programme ( The study will investigate ecosystem services provided by mudflat and saltmarsh ecosystems in the UK, as these comprise over half of the UK's total estuarine area and support a wide range of economically valuable animal and plant species and are vital sites for carbon storage, nutrient cycling and coastal protection. The study specifically aims to quantify the landscape-scale linkages between ecosystem functions and services, and the biodiversity stocks (organisms, algae and plants) that help provide and underpin the delivery of these services across coastal margins. Dr. Martin Solan (Leader Theme 1: "Biodiversity-ecosystem service methodologies") and Dr. Jasmin Godbold (Leader Theme 3: "Determination of context dependency in biodiversity and ecosystem service relationships") will be leading the quantification of macrofaunal biodiversity stocks in the mudflat ecosystems, whilst Prof. Steve Hawkins is largely involved with quantification of biodiversity stocks in the saltmarsh habitats.



2. A global framework for quantifying the ecosystem service impacts of oil and biofuel production". NERC funded through UKERC 2012-2014

Transport fuels - whether from oil or renewable biofuels - are likely to have a major impact on ecosystem services and the people that depend on them. This project aims to a) develop a methodology to quantify the impacts that transport fuel used in the UK has on ecosystem services globally; and b) use this methodology to provide an initial assessment of the relative ecosystem service impacts of producing transport fuels from conventional oil and biofuels in different parts of the world. Dr Felix Eigenbrod in Biology leads this collaborative project, which includes Prof Gail Taylor and Dr Rob Holland in Biology, and collaborators at Imperial College London and the World Conservation Monitoring Centre (WCMC).


Flower, Madagascar
Ecosystem Services

Biodiversity underpins and mediates many benefits that people obtain from ecosystems – protecting, restoring and sustainably managing ecosystems is thus crucial to a better future.

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