A University of Plymouth researcher has contributed to the first-ever comprehensive system for classifying and mapping all the ecosystems on Earth.
The Global Typology of Ecosystems, published by the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN), is designed to allow for more coordinated and effective approaches to conservation management.
It was developed by more than 100 ecosystem scientists representing the IUCN Commission on Ecosystem Management and 85 scientific institutions.
Among them was Dr Louise Firth, Lecturer in Marine Ecology in the University’s School of Biological and Marine Sciences, who contributed her expertise in artificial shorelines and eco-engineering.
The typology defines the key biophysical features of 108 major ecosystem types throughout the oceans, freshwater and land, and describes the processes that sustain them as well as their global distributions.
It encompasses ecosystems that are shaped by humans – such as croplands and dams – as well as vast forest wilderness, deserts, deep ocean trenches, and others buried below ground and beneath ice sheets.
This systematic approach to classifying ecosystems will help identify which types of forests, reefs and wetlands, for example, are most critical to biodiversity conservation and the supply of ecosystem services, and which are at greatest risk of collapse.