When, Where, and How Nature Matters for Ecosystem Services: Challenges for the Next Generation of Ecosystem Service Models

Jesse T. Rieb, Rebecca Chaplin-Kramer, Gretchen C. Daily, Paul R. Armsworth, Katrin Böhning-Gaese, Aletta Bonn, Graeme S. Cumming, Felix Eigenbrod, Volker Grimm, Bethanna M. Jackson, Alexandra Marques, Subhrendu K. Pattanayak, Henrique M. Pereira, Garry D. Peterson, Taylor H. Ricketts, Brian E. Robinson, Matthias Schröter, Lisa A. Schulte, Ralf Seppelt, Monica G. TurnerElena M. Bennett

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review

111 Scopus citations


Many decision-makers are looking to science to clarify how nature supports human well-being. Scientists' responses have typically focused on empirical models of the provision of ecosystem services (ES) and resulting decision-support tools. Although such tools have captured some of the complexities of ES, they can be difficult to adapt to new situations. Globally useful tools that predict the provision of multiple ES under different decision scenarios have proven challenging to develop. Questions from decision-makers and limitations of existing decision-support tools indicate three crucial research frontiers for incorporating cutting-edge ES science into decision-support tools: (1) understanding the complex dynamics of ES in space and time, (2) linking ES provision to human well-being, and (3) determining the potential for technology to substitute for or enhance ES. We explore these frontiers in-depth, explaining why each is important and how existing knowledge at their cutting edges can be incorporated to improve ES decision-making tools.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)820-833
Number of pages14
Issue number9
StatePublished - Sep 2017
Externally publishedYes

Bibliographical note

Funding Information:
This article is a joint effort of the working group “sESMOD— Next-Generation Models for Ecosystem Services and Biodiversity” and an outcome of a workshop kindly supported by the Synthesis Centre (sDiv) of the German Centre for Integrative Biodiversity Research (iDiv) Halle-Jena-Leipzig (DFG FZT 118). Jesse T. Rieb and Rebecca Chaplin-Kramer contributed equally to this work.


  • decision-making
  • decision-support tools
  • ecosystem services
  • modeling
  • natural capital


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