Supporting urban ecosystem services across terrestrial, marine and freshwater realms

Sci Total Environ. 2022 Apr 15:817:152689. doi: 10.1016/j.scitotenv.2021.152689. Epub 2021 Dec 30.


The terrestrial, freshwater and marine realms all provide essential ecosystem services in urban environments. However, the services provided by each realm are often considered independently, which ignores the synergies between them and risks underestimating the benefits derived collectively. Greater research collaboration across these realms, and an integrated approach to management decisions can help to support urban developments and restoration projects in maintaining or enhancing ecosystem services. The aim of this paper is to highlight the synergies and trade-offs among ecosystem services provided by each realm and to offer suggestions on how to improve current practice. We use case studies to illustrate the flow of services across realms. In our call to better integrate research and management across realms, we present a framework that provides a 6-step process for conducting collaborative research and management with an Australian perspective. Our framework considers unifying language, sharing, and understanding of desired outcomes, conducting cost-benefit analyses to minimise trade-offs, using multiple modes of communication for stakeholders, and applying research outcomes to inform regulation. It can be applied to improve collaboration among researchers, managers and planners from all realms, leading to strategic allocation of resources, increased protection of urban natural resources and improved environmental regulation with broad public support.

Keywords: Aquatic ecology; Ecosystem function; Ecosystem processes; Terrestrial ecology; Urbanization.

MeSH terms

  • Australia
  • Conservation of Natural Resources*
  • Ecosystem*
  • Fresh Water