Frontiers journals are at the top of citation and impact metrics

Perspective ARTICLE Provisionally accepted The full-text will be published soon. Notify me

Front. Ecol. Evol. | doi: 10.3389/fevo.2018.00226

Is the focus on “ecosystems” a liability in the research on nature’s services?

  • 1AgroParisTech Institut des Sciences et Industries du Vivant et de L'environnement, France
  • 2INRA Centre Versailles-Grignon, France

For the last 20 years, the concept of ecosystem has constituted one of the key pillars on which the study of “ecosystem services”, i.e., the benefits that human populations derive from nature, has been based. Yet, at this stage, one could argue that, in general and especially in fields related to agriculture, the ecosystem framework tends to limit unnecessarily the range of benefits to humans that are considered in practice, to hinder the necessary measurement of services, and to make it challenging to convince individuals to take nature’s services into account in their decision making. In the present Perspective piece, we analyze these 3 arguments in detail, conclude that the current focus on ecosystems is more a liability than an asset in the field, and suggest a return to the less constraining notions of “nature’s functions and services”, without a necessary tie to ecosystems.

Keywords: assessment, ecosystem services, sustainability, sustainable development, Nature valuation, natural capital

Received: 27 Sep 2018; Accepted: 06 Dec 2018.

Edited by:

Luuk Fleskens, Wageningen University & Research, Netherlands

Reviewed by:

Ângela C. Lomba, Centro de Investigação em Biodiversidade e Recursos Genéticos (CIBIO), Portugal
Francisco Sánchez-Bayo, University of Sydney, Australia  

Copyright: © 2018 Baveye, Chalhoub, Choquet and Montagne. This is an open-access article distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution License (CC BY). The use, distribution or reproduction in other forums is permitted, provided the original author(s) and the copyright owner(s) are credited and that the original publication in this journal is cited, in accordance with accepted academic practice. No use, distribution or reproduction is permitted which does not comply with these terms.

* Correspondence: Prof. Philippe C. Baveye, AgroParisTech Institut des Sciences et Industries du Vivant et de L'environnement, Paris, France,