Ecosystem Services and Life on a Human

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Ecosystem Services and
Life on a
Human-Dominated Earth
The Challenges and Opportunities Ahead
Dr. G. David Tilman
Dept. of Ecology, Evolution, and Behavior
University of Minnesota
John Haarstad, U. Minnesota
What Are Ecosystem Services?
Copyright 1992 Laura Cunningham
Services of value to humans provided by natural and managed ecosystems
Purification of air and water
The Catskill Mountains
provide New York City
with a service worth
about $1 billion/yr.
Steve Carpenter, U Wisconsin
Generation and Renewal of Soil Fertility
Prairie grasslands and savannas of
North America generated the fertile
soils that feed 200,000,000 people.
Humans Have Benefited
From The Vast Diversity of
Potential Food Plants
Potato Varieties
USDA-ARS
When we want food, we go to nature
Fine Dining on Whilshire Boulevard, Los Angeles, 9000 BC
(copyrighted image of mastodon in tar pit could not be included on this CD)
Dining at the La Brea Tar Pits, 9000 BC
Earth’s Biodiversity is also
the Major Source of
Human Medicines
More than 60% of the 50 best
selling medicines are derived from
nature. So are the two most
important medicines ever
discovered, Aspirin and ….
and I thought it was wine
Other Ecosystem Services Include:
•
•
•
•
•
Detoxification and decomposition of wastes
Pollination of crops
Control of many agricultural pests
Moderation of climate
Natural production of fish, forage, biomass
fuels, and industrial products
• Amelioration of flooding
• Maintenance of genetic resources
• Aesthetic beauty
Ecosystem Services
• Have been essential to human success
• Are provided for free by natural
ecosystems
• Are becoming less available as human
population size and consumption
increase
Copyright 2001 Laura Cunningham
The two largest global human impacts
come from our need for
Food and Energy
USDA-ARS
Human Global Ecosystem
Domination
• 45% of terrestrial ecosystem production is
appropriated by humans
• Half of useable freshwaters is appropriated
by humans (irrigation, hydroelectric power)
• Doubled rates of nitrogen fixation and of
phosphorus liberation
• Unprecedented extinctions via habitat
destruction and invasions by exotic species
• Elevated pesticide levels in humans
• Elevated greenhouse gases (CO2, methane)
Final Period of Rapidly Expanding
Human Environmental Impacts?
In the next 50 years
• Population is projected to increase from 6 to
9 or 10 billion – a 50% increase
• Global per capita GDP is projected to
increase 140%
• Global population and consumption drive
agricultural demand – which could double if
demand for meat continues to increase
globally
World Food (109 metric tons)
Benefits of the
Green Revolution
4
1.97-fold increase
in 35 year
3
2
1960
1970
1980
Year
1990
2000
Global food production doubled in 35 years.
photo credit: USDA-ARS
0.30
80
60
0.28
N
H 2O
P
0.26
0.24
0.22
40
0.20
0.18
20
0.16
0.14
0.12
0
1960
1970
1980
1990
2000
Global Irrigation (109 hectares)
(106 metric tons; World-USSR)
Nitrogen and Phosphorus Fertilizer
Costs of the Green Revolution
Year
• 7-fold Increase In N Fertilization
• Doubling The N Economy Of the Earth
(from Tilman, Fargione, Wolf et al Science)
3.45
3.40
3.35
1.54
1.52
1.50
1.48
1.46
1.44
1.42
1.40
1.38
1.36
1.34
1.32
Pasture Land
Crop Land
3.30
3.25
3.20
3.15
3.10
3.05
3.00
1960
1970
1980
Year
1990
2000
Global Crop Land (109 hectares)
Global Pasture Land (109 hectares)
Costs of the Green Revolution
• Destruction Of Natural Habitats For Agriculture
• Contributing To a major Extinction Event
(from Tilman, Fargione, Wolf et al Science)
If We Stay on the Course Set in the Past 35 years:
Environmental Variable
Increase by 2050
Global N Fertilizer
210%
Global P Fertilizer
140%
Global Pesticide Production
170%
Global Agricultural Land
20%
(Area of USA)
(27% of usable land still in nature)
(from Tilman, Fargione, Wolf et al Science 2001)
Conversion to agriculture
decreases ecosystem diversity,
decreases ecosystem services,
and increases extinctions.
photo credit: USDA Forest Service
Native Prairie Receiving No Added Nitrogen
A Control Plot in a 207-Plot Nitrogen Addition Experiment
Increased Nitrogen Causes
Loss of Biodiversity
Chronic Nitrogen Addition Plot
Species Lost (percent)
(from 1982 to 1999)
100
80
60
40
Chronic addition of only 1 g/m2 of N,
comparable to atmospheric deposition,
caused local loss of 30% of prairie species.
20
0
0
5
10
15
20
25
Nitrogen Addition (g)
High Nitrogen Addition: Dominated by a European Weed, Quack Grass
What Determines the Flow of
Ecosystem Services?
Does Biodiversity Matter?
• Does biodiversity influence ecosystem
stability, productivity, nutrient dynamics,
disease dynamics, or susceptibility to
invasion by exotic species?
• Could the loss of biodiversity impact the
supply of ecosystem services of value to
society?
The Cedar
Experiments
Cedar Creek
Creek Biodiversity
Biodiversity Experiment
172 Large Plots
Random Species Choice
Species Pool of 18 Grassland Plants
Diverse Systems Use
Limiting Resources More Efficiently
Soil NO (0-20 cm depth)
0.5
0.4
0.3
0.2
1997
0.1
1998
0.0
0
2
4
6
8
10
12
Number of Different Species
14
16
Our Research Shows:
•
•
•
Ecosystem biodiversity
enhances productivity,
nutrient use efficiency
Greater diversity leads
to greater ecosystem
stability and
predictability
Greater diversity leads
to less disease
The quality and quantity
of ecosystem services
depends on the
diversity and
composition of
managed and natural
ecosystems
1.4
Total biomass (kg/ m 2 )
•
1.2
1.0
0.8
0.6
0.4
Diverse Systems Are
More Productive
0.2
0.0
0
2
4
6
8
10
12
14
Number of Species
16
How Can We Optimize
Ecosystem Services on a
Human-Dominated Earth?
By using – not fighting – ecological processes
and principles
With cradle-to-grave analysis of the full costs
and benefits of all agricultural, forestry, and
manufactured products and processes
By basing policy, ethics and actions on
processes and products that maximize the
long-term net return to all of society
Forests, Farms and
Ecosystem Services
•Farmers and foresters are the major land
managers of the earth
•Current incentives are to produce crops at
lowest price, ignoring costs to ecosystem
services
We could maximize total return to society
by paying land managers for the value of
both the goods and ecosystem services
they provide.
USDA-ARS
New York City and Catskill Water Production
New York City invested $2 billion to
preserve the watersheds of the
Catskills and their ecosystem
services.
This is saving $1 Billion per year.
Steve Carpenter, U Wisconsin
Optimizing Ecosystem Services
Forested ecosystems
remove and store
some of the carbon
dioxide released
by fossil fuel use
Colors depict sources of CO2 emissions:
white, light of cities;
red, forest & agricultural fires;
yellow, gas flares.
Source: Gene Feldman, NASA; W.T. Sullivan,
III, University of Washington; Defense
Meteorological Satellite Program of USAF
How much more Carbon could be
stored in diverse forests?
Grasslands with 16 species store 2.7
times more Carbon than mono-cultures.
John Aber, U. New Hampshire
Three grasses – Corn, Wheat and Rice –
provide 60% of human caloric needs.
photo credit: USDA-ARS
Irish
Potato
Famine
Low Crop
Diversity:
Ireland
Depended
On One
Strain of
One Crop
Illustrated London News
Genetic Diversity
in Seed Banks and
Nature is Used to
Fight New Diseases
North Central Regional
Plant Introduction Station
Ames, Iowa
Northern Corn Blight
C. Martinson, Iowa State U.
Gary Munkvold, Iowa State U.
The Three Most Abundant Plants
On Earth – Corn, Wheat, Rice –
Hosts for New Pathogens?
photo credits: USDA-ARS
Crop Strength Through Diversity
Rice Diversity Fights Disease and Eliminates Fungicide
photo credits: NASA
Livestock
Production
Disease
Manure
Efficiency
Grain Use
Doug Argue (Weisman Art Museum)
Meat Production Methods
1400
1300
World Cattle
World Pigs
World Cattle (Millions)
1200
Cattle, evolved for living on
low-protein grasses, must be
given antibiotics when fed
high-protein grains.
1100
1000
900
800
700
600
*Antibiotic resistant novel pathogens
*Manure and water pollution problems
*50% of grains fed to livestock
500
400
300
1960
1965
1970
1975
1980
Year
1985
1990
1995
photo credit: USDA-ARS
Overuse and Rapid Evolution of Resistance:
Penicillin 1946
Methicillin 1961
Vancomycin 1986
Zyvox 1999
(based on Palumbi 2001)
Antibiotic Resistance &
Pesticide Resistance:
Loss of valuable
medicines and
agri-chemicals
It is time to incorporate
the insights of ecology and
evolution into medicine,
agriculture, forestry and
environmental management.
Ethics and Policies for A Human-Dominated World
Population (billions)
6.0
5.0
4.0
* Evolution of Human Behavior
* Formulation of Ethics/Religions
* Formulation of Laws/Policies
3.0
2.0
1.0
0.0
-8000
-6000
-4000
-2000
Years
0
B.C.
2000
A.D.
Global Ecosystem Domination:
Challenges and Solutions
Challenge
To improve the long-term welfare of all of
society by assuring a sustainable and
equitable flow of vital goods and ecosystem
services for current and future generations.
Solutions
• Measure the full costs and benefits of alternative
practices;
• Determine which practices maximize the net benefits
to society;
• Incorporate this knowledge – and the search for ever
better practices – into policy and ethics.
There are solutions, and we will find better and
Once moving in
the right
direction
Copyright 1991 Laura Cunningham
even the giant ground sloth
could have moved fast enough
to solve these problems.
better solutions, once we focus on the problems
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