Approaches to defining a planetary boundary for biodiversity

Mace, Georgina M., Reyers, Belinda, Alkemade, Rob, Biggs, Reinette, Chapin, F. Stuart, III, Cornell, Sarah E., Diaz, Sandra, Jennings, Simon, Leadley, Paul, Mumby, Peter J., Purvis, Andy, Scholes, Robert J., Seddon, Alistair W. R., Solan, Martin, Steffen, Will and Woodward, Guy (2014) Approaches to defining a planetary boundary for biodiversity. Global Environmental Change-Human and Policy Dimensions, 28 1: 289-297. doi:10.1016/j.gloenvcha.2014.07.009

Author Mace, Georgina M.
Reyers, Belinda
Alkemade, Rob
Biggs, Reinette
Chapin, F. Stuart, III
Cornell, Sarah E.
Diaz, Sandra
Jennings, Simon
Leadley, Paul
Mumby, Peter J.
Purvis, Andy
Scholes, Robert J.
Seddon, Alistair W. R.
Solan, Martin
Steffen, Will
Woodward, Guy
Title Approaches to defining a planetary boundary for biodiversity
Journal name Global Environmental Change-Human and Policy Dimensions   Check publisher's open access policy
ISSN 0959-3780
Publication date 2014-09
Year available 2014
Sub-type Article (original research)
DOI 10.1016/j.gloenvcha.2014.07.009
Open Access Status DOI
Volume 28
Issue 1
Start page 289
End page 297
Total pages 9
Place of publication Kidlington, Oxford, United Kingdom
Publisher Pergamon Press
Collection year 2015
Language eng
Formatted abstract
The idea that there is an identifiable set of boundaries, beyond which anthropogenic change will put the Earth system outside a safe operating space for humanity, is attracting interest in the scientific community and gaining support in the environmental policy world. Rockstrom et al. (2009) identify nine such boundaries and highlight biodiversity loss as being the single boundary where current rates of extinction put the Earth system furthest outside the safe operating space. Here we review the evidence to support a boundary based on extinction rates and identify weaknesses with this metric and its bearing on humanity's needs. While changes to biodiversity are of undisputed importance, we show that both extinction rate and species richness are weak metrics for this purpose, and they do not scale well from local to regional or global levels. We develop alternative approaches to determine biodiversity loss boundaries and extend our analysis to consider large-scale responses in the Earth system that could affect its suitability for complex human societies which in turn are mediated by the biosphere. We suggest three facets of biodiversity on which a boundary could be based: the genetic library of life; functional type diversity; and biome condition and extent. For each of these we explore the science needed to indicate how it might be measured and how changes would affect human societies. In addition to these three facets, we show how biodiversity's role in supporting a safe operating space for humanity may lie primarily in its interactions with other boundaries, suggesting an immediate area of focus for scientists and policymakers.
Keyword Biodiversity
Planetary boundary
Phylogenetic diversity
Functional diversity
Biome integrity
Q-Index Code C1
Q-Index Status Confirmed Code
Institutional Status UQ

Document type: Journal Article
Sub-type: Article (original research)
Collections: Official 2015 Collection
School of Biological Sciences Publications
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Citation counts: TR Web of Science Citation Count  Cited 28 times in Thomson Reuters Web of Science Article | Citations
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