, Volume 16, Issue 10, pp 2729-2737
Date: 20 Jul 2007

Ecosystem services and biodiversity in developing countries

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The concept of ecosystem services has become important for our understanding of the role of nature for maintaining human livelihoods. But is biodiversity essential to maintain ecosystem services? Many studies suggest that higher biodiversity allows a higher level of ecosystem services, but others argue that there is little hard evidence, especially from tropical environments, to document the necessity of high biodiversity for provision of most ecosystem services. Thus, effective valuation of biodiversity for ecosystem services and long-term studies and monitoring are needed to fully understand the complex biodiversity-ecosystem service interface. This introduction briefly reviews some of the main arguments in this debate and provides an overview of the other five special issue papers. Exploring biodiversity and ecosystem interactions in the context of the provision of ecosystem services, these papers address population and biodiversity coexistence, the importance of dung beetles in agricultural landscapes, the knowledge and use of palms by local communities, bioprospecting for drugs and how biodiversity conservation may have added benefits in terms of improved watershed functions and health.