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Science and Engineering at The University of Edinburgh

School of GeoSciences


Centre for the study of
Environmental Change
and Sustainability

Ecosystem Services


European Biodiversity Observation Network: Design of a plan for an integrated biodiversity observing system in space and time (EBONE)

Fuel Moisture & Fire Test Monitoring Programme

Rationalising biodiversity conservation in dynamic ecosystems (RUBICODE)


Ecochange project follows 5 approaches :
  • Improve the current data structure with respect to biodiversity, climate, land use, land structural and socio-economic information.
  • Improve current models and test critical model assumptions to cope with the required forecasting.
  • Integrate prediction uncertainties into forecasting.
  • Test a series of assumptions relevant for predicting the effects of global change upon biodiversity, ecosystems and relevant goods and services.
  • Develop a series of future projections of biodiversity, ecosystem functions and the goods and services they provide based on coupled climate and land use and socio-economic change scenarios both at EU and case study scales.
  • Final goal of the project is to provide data, scenarios and associated confidence limits so that policy markers and land managers can use them for anticipating societal problems and for designing sustainable conservation strategies by accounting the most likely global change effects on biodiversity and ecosystems.
    The scientific core output of ECOCHANGE is a suite of model scenarios and data sets that can be summarized as follows:
    • Tested scenarios of biodiversity patterns, ecosystem boundaries and species distributions sensitive to climate, economic development and land use under current and simulated future conditions;
    • Improved modelling of dynamic ecosystem biogeochemistry and functioning, as well as the spatial re-adjustment of plant functional types (PFTs) or bioclimatic affinity groups under current and simulated future climate, economic and land use scenarios;
    • Historical rates of migration for 72 key plant species of important PFTs derived from novel molecular techniques tested against palaeodata (macrofossils, pollen);
    • Spatially explicit climate, economic and land use change scenarios for the next century (up to 2100).
    All three outputs will be used for forecasting the global change effects on biodiversity and ecosystems, thus reducing uncertainties in future projections.

    Funding:   European Commission FP6

    Further information:   Nicholas Dendoncker   Dave Murray-Rust

    Website:   ECOCHANGE

    European Biodiversity Observation Network: Design of a plan for an integrated biodiversity observing system in space and time (EBONE)

    EBONE aims to develop and implement a biodiversity observation network that is spatially and topically prioritized and a structure for an institutional framework allowing European and world wide monitoring and projections on trends based on reliable data and indicators. The project is designed to link databases and projects that have thus far operated in relative isolation, i.e. national monitoring programmes, Long Term Ecological Research facilities, and remotely sensed data sources. In addition it will provide a strategy for optimising methods of gathering additional data to compliment what is currently available, e.g. through stratified random field sample dispersed across Europe. CECS leads the development of the European sample design, statistical stratification and data analysis.

    Funding:   EU FP7 Research Project

    Duration:   2008-2012

    Further information:   Mark Metzger

    Website:   EBONE

    Fuel Moisture & Fire Test Monitoring Programme

    The aim is to understand the factors that determine when a heath fire is liable to ignite underlying blanket peat and when the peat will sustain a smouldering fire. Ultimately this information will enable the Met Office to use weather forecasts to predict conditions where there is a high risk of peat fire.

    The main outputs will be:

    1. simple models relating weather conditions to peat fuel moisture in moorland habitats
    2. simple models to describe the development of vertical moisture profiles within a peat layer during drought conditions
    3. a relationship between peat fuel moisture and the probability of ignition of peat
    4. a relationship between peat fuel moisture and the probability of peat sustaining a smouldering fire

    Funding:   Met Office and Natural England

    Duration:   August 2006 – December 2008

    Further information:   Colin Legg

    Rationalising biodiversity conservation in dynamic ecosystems (RUBICODE)

    RUBICODE is a pan-European project that is reviewing and developing concepts of dynamic ecosystems and the services they provide. These services include the provision of food, fibre and fuel, regulation of air and water quality, flood protection, erosion control, pollination, pest control, recreation, ecotourism and many others. Those components of biodiversity which provide specific services to society are being defined and evaluated in order to increase our understanding of their value and, consequently, of the cost of losing them. This will give decision-makers a more rational base for halting biodiversity loss by shaping adequate conservation policies. Nature is fundamentally dynamic, as are the pressures of human activities on biodiversity, yet most conservation strategies focus on protected areas and are still developed around a static view of nature. RUBICODE is developing innovative concepts for conservation strategies that concentrate on managing dynamic ecosystems to maintain their capacity to undergo disturbance, while retaining their functions, services and control mechanisms (ecological resilience).
    RUBICODE includes the following:
    • Development and testing of concepts of dynamic ecosystems and the services they provide for both terrestrial and freshwater ecosystems.
    • Socio-economic and environmental drivers of biodiversity change.
    • A framework for linking ecosystem service provision to biological traits.
    • Indicators that provide rapid assessment methods for monitoring ecosystem and habitat ecological quality.
    • Strategies for conserving and managing biodiversity and the services it provides that take account of drivers of biodiversity change.
    • Identification of current gaps in knowledge and future research needs.

    Funding:   European Commission, Framework VI Programme

    Duration:   2006-2009

    Further information:   Mark Rounsevell

    Website:   RUBICODE

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