Ecological Indicators: Ecosystem Health

Authored by: Felix Müller , Benjamin Burkhard , Marion Kandziora , Claus Schimming , Wilhelm Windhorst

Encyclopedia of Environmental Management

Print publication date:  December  2012
Online publication date:  December  2012

Print ISBN: 9781439829271
eBook ISBN: 9781351235860
Adobe ISBN:


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This entry documents a literature review about approaches and concepts to indicate ecosystem health. After a short introduction, basic features and requirements of ecological indicators are sketched. The general concept of ecosystem health is introduced, and examples of ecosystem health indications are described. Ecosystem health is understood as the ability of an ecosystem to maintain its structure and function over time under external stress, safeguarding a sustainable provision of ecosystem goods and services contributing to human well-being. In the main part of this entry, several indicators that have been used to depict the health status of ecosystems are listed, distinguishing species and community-based indicators, holistic ecosystem theoretical indicators, indicators based on ecosystem analysis, and ending with ecosystem services that should be the target of the ecosystem health concept. Some applications of the ecosystem health indicator concept are summarized, referring to different ecosystem types, and finally, the state of the art is related to the initial requirements for ecosystem health indicators.

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