Bodil Elmhagen


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Results - the story so far

Study area
- About Fennoscandia

Scientific background

In Swedish



Interacting effects of change in climate, human population, land use and water use on biodiversity and ecosystem services.

Human population growth and resource use, mediated by changes in climate and land use and water use, increasingly impact biodiversity and ecosystem services provision. However, impacts of these drivers on biodiversity and ecosystem services are rarely analyzed simultaneously and remain largely unknown. An emerging question is how science can improve the understanding of change in biodiversity and ecosystem service delivery and of potential feedbacks of adaptive governance. Here we analyze past and future change in drivers in south-central Sweden. We use the analysis to identify main research challenges and outline important research tasks. Since the 19th century, our study area has experienced substantial and interlinked changes; a 1.6°C temperature increase, rapid population growth, urbanization and massive changes in land use and water use. Considerable future changes are also projected until the mid-21st century. However, little is known about the impacts on biodiversity and ecosystem services so far, and this in turn hampers future projections of such effects. Therefore, we urge scientists to explore interdisciplinary approaches designed to investigate change in multiple drivers, underlying mechanisms and interactions over time, including assessment and analysis of matching-scale data from several disciplines. Such a perspective is needed for science to contribute to adaptive governance by constantly improving the understanding of linked change complexities and their impacts.

Elmhagen B, Destouni G, Angerbjörn A, Borgström S, Boyd E, Cousins SAO, Dalén L, Ehrlén J, Ermold M, Hambäck PA, Hedlund J, Hylander K, Jaramillo F, Lagerholm VK, Lyon SW, Moor H, Nykvist B, Pasanen-Mortensen M, Plue J, Prieto C, van der Velde Y, Lindborg R (2015) Interacting effects of change in climate, human population, land use and water use on biodiversity and ecosystem services. Ecology and Society 20(1): 23.
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The authors of this paper carry out research within Ekoklim, an interdisciplinary research program at Stockholm University, Sweden.


The study area includes the capital of Sweden, Stockholm. While the countryside has been depopulated since the 19th century, the human population has grown in densely built-up areas and towns. How do all these changes affect biodiversity and ecosystem service delivery - and how can we study these processes?
Since, the mid-19th century, the mean annual temperature has increased by 1.6 degrees in our study area in south-central Sweden.

The rural landscape has changed from a semi-open state dominated by meadows producing fodder for livestock and open forests grazed by livestock...
... to a state dominated by dense production forest and intensely cultivated arable fields.