Ecosystem Functioning

Kurt Jax 
CUP  September 2010  

Paperback  286 pp  ISBN 9780521705233      £35.00

Hardback  286 pp  ISBN 9780521879538      £75.00
  • Provides an integrative overview of ecosystem functioning allowing orientation in a complex research field with highly ambiguous and often vague terminology
  • Proposes a new view on the subject linking the natural sciences with approaches from the humanities, and introduces ecologists and conservation biologists to new productive and rather unfamiliar methodologies
  • Case studies relate theoretical considerations with relevant applications, with the practical relevance of more theoretical issues becoming clearer
  • Introduces a new methodology for a clear and efficient application of ecosystem functioning concepts in practice, and helps researchers apply concepts in conservation projects

In the face of decreasing biodiversity and ongoing global changes, maintaining ecosystem functioning is seen both as a means to preserve biological diversity as well as for safeguarding human well-being by securing the services ecosystems provide. The concept today is prominent in many fields of ecology and conservation biology, such as biodiversity research, ecosystem management, or restoration ecology. Although the idea of ecosystem functioning is important, the concept itself remains rather vague and elusive.

This book provides a novel analysis and integrated synthesis of different approaches to conceptualising and assessing ecosystem functioning. It links the natural sciences with methodologies from philosophy and the social sciences, and introduces a new methodology for a clearer and more efficient application of ecosystem functioning concepts in practice. Special emphasis is laid on the social dimensions of the concept and the ways it influences research practice. Several case studies relate theoretical analyses to practical application.


  • Introduction
  • Setting the scene. The context of investigating ecosystem functioning
  • What do we need for a functioning ecosystem? The debate on biodiversity and ecosystem functioning
  • Becoming general: What is ecosystem functioning?
  • Ecosystem functioning: science meets society
  • Assessing ecosystem functioning: existing approaches
  • Putting ecosystem functioning concepts into practice: a classification and some guidelines
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