GEO BON Working Groups
Ecosystem structure

The activities of this new working group are closely related to those of the former WG3 but with a specific focus on characterizing Ecosystem Structure. In general, the WG focuses on measures of ecosystem state and how it is changing, including condition of and change in the structural components that maintain biodiversity characteristics. The WG develops new techniques and algorithms for earth observation from space in characterizing ecosystem structure and its change over time. Activities on Ecosystem function as well as species population and abundance related to EO will be coordinated with the Ecosystem Structure working group, particularly in regard to RS-EBVs.

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Ecosystem function

Biodiversity is defined by the Convention on Biological Diversity as “the variability among living organisms”, the ecological complexes in which they naturally occur, and the ways in which they interact with each other and with the physical environment. It is a fundamentally multidimensional concept that can be measured in terms of different components (genetic, population/species, and community/ecosystem); each of these components has compositional, structural and functional attributes which can be considered the three-dimensions of biodiversity. Organism-based metrics that count the number of distinct species in a defined area (species richness) are the most common proxies used in biodiversity assessments.

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Species populations

In 2015 and 2016, a GEOBON expert group has progressed a first conceptualization of the Species Distribution EBV and charted out next steps to advance its empirical capture and use. Over the same time period GEO BON supported the development of essential variables for invasion monitoring. This effort identified the availability of occurrence data for alien species as central to their successful management and highlighted the importance of advances in sharing and integration of such data. With the Species Populations Working Group, we are now entering a second phase with the larger goal of advancing the operational aspects of the SA EBV and especially the SD EBV, supporting scientists to develop example research and conservation applications, and connecting it to other EBVs, indicators and applications.

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Ecosystem services

The challenge that this WG faces, is going beyond quantification of the natural system that forms the basis for ecosystem service provision, to incorporation of multiple tradeoffs, multiple scales and a wide range of social dimensions. This requires a broad interdisciplinary team from science and humanities fields that can jointly identify and explore the most crucial components of the system that need to be observed.

Our primary audiences are national, regional and global decision makers, who, through their policies, can influence institutional structures, management practices and human behaviors that eventually affect the status of ecosystems and components of human well being to which they are linked. Specifically, we aim to work closely with governments and NGOs in the countries that we work in as a team; for example, the European Union, the Intergovernmental Platform for Biodiversity and Ecosystem Services (IPBES), UN SDGs, UNFCCC, Ecosystem Services Partnership, and the Convention of Biological Diversity. Given the strong science basis of our work, we also aim to influence and inform the academic and scientific community addressing similar issues.

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BON development

It is important that a national, regional or thematic BON does not develop and operate in isolation, but rather draws from and contributes to broader regional and global biodiversity observation efforts while, at the same time, allowing flexibility and customization to respond to regional, national and/or local needs. With this in mind, the BON Development Working Group will work with national and international organizations to help facilitate effective and efficient BON’s that primarily serves communities by facilitating policy and decision-making processes and that contribute to global BON efforts.

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