Research News > Historical data sets & ecosystem services

Recent research into the use of historical data sets by RA member Elena Bennett and colleagues is helping advance our understanding of how ecosystem services interact and change over time.

In a paper published this summer, Stephanie Tomscha and colleagues aim to address a major research gap - the temporal dynamics of ES using historical datasets. A Guide to Historical Data Sets for Reconstructing Ecosystem Service Change Over Time reviews a variety of historical datasets that can be used to address pressing questions around ES sustainability, how ES interact, and the possibility of time lags in the supply of ES. A suite of dataset types including tree rings, aerial photography, oral histories, etc. are linked to a simplified ES framework and the opportunity as well as practical challenges involved in using historical datasets are discussed.

In an earlier paper, Historical dynamics in ecosystem service bundles, Renard, Rhemtulla, and Bennett use a spatiotemporal approach that examines how 9 ES change over a 35 year time span across 131 municipalities in southern Quebec, Canada. Their study shows how ES interact over time in ways that influence the trajectory of change across a large, multi-use landscape and challenges the use of snapshots of ES provision at a single point in time and informs the management of multiple ecosystem services.


Historical dynamics in ecosystem service bundles. D. Renard, J.M. Rhemtulla, E.M. Bennett 2016. PNAS 112 (43): 13411-13416.

A guide to historical data sets for reconstructing ecosystem service change over time. July 27, 2016 online. S.A. Tomscha, I.J. Sutherland, D. Renard, S.E. Gergel, J.M. Rhemtulla, E.M. Bennett, L.D. Daniels, I.M.S. Eddy, E.E. Clark.