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Review article - Peer-reviewed, 2019

Research questions to facilitate the future development of European long-term ecosystem research infrastructures: A horizon scanning exercise

Musche, Martin; Adamescu, Mihai; Angelstam, Per; Bacher, Sven; Baeck, Jaana; Buss, Heather L.; Duffy, Christopher; Flaim, Giovanna; Gaillardet, Jerome; Giannakis, George V.; Haase, Peter; Halada, Lubos; Kissling, Daniel; Lundin, Lars; Matteucci, Giorgio; Meesenburg, Henning; Monteith, Don; Nikolaidis, Nikolaos P.; Pipan, Tanja; Pysek, Petr;
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Distributed environmental research infrastructures are important to support assessments of the effects of global change on landscapes, ecosystems and society. These infrastructures need to provide continuity to address long-term change, yet be flexible enough to respond to rapid societal and technological developments that modify research priorities. We used a horizon scanning exercise to identify and prioritize emerging research questions for the future development of ecosystem and socio-ecological research infrastructures in Europe. Twenty research questions covered topics related to (i) ecosystem structures and processes, (ii) the impacts of anthropogenic drivers on ecosystems, (iii) ecosystem services and socio-ecological systems and (iv), methods and research infrastructures. Several key priorities for the development of research infrastructures emerged. Addressing complex environmental issues requires the adoption of a whole-system approach, achieved through integration of biotic, abiotic and socio-economic measurements. Interoperability among different research infrastructures needs to be improved by developing standard measurements, harmonizing methods, and establishing capacities and tools for data integration, processing, storage and analysis. Future research infrastructures should support a range of methodological approaches including observation, experiments and modelling. They should also have flexibility to respond to new requirements, for example by adjusting the spatio-temporal design of measurements. When new methods are introduced, compatibility with important long-term data series must be ensured. Finally, indicators, tools, and transdisciplinary approaches to identify, quantify and value ecosystem services across spatial scales and domains need to be advanced.


Research strategies; Priorities; Research infrastructure; Whole system approach; Interoperability

Published in

Journal of Environmental Management
2019, volume: 250, article number: 109479

Authors' information

Musche, Martin
Helmholtz Association
Adamescu, Mihai
University of Bucharest
Swedish University of Agricultural Sciences, School for Forest Management
Bacher, Sven
University of Fribourg
Baeck, Jaana
University of Helsinki
Buss, Heather L.
University of Bristol
Duffy, Christopher
Penn State University
Flaim, Giovanna
Fondazione Edmund Mach
Gaillardet, Jerome
Universite de Paris
Giannakis, George V.
Tech Univ Crete
Haase, Peter
Nat Hist Museum Frankfirrt
Haase, Peter
University of Duisburg Essen
Halada, Lubos
Slovak Academy of Sciences
Kissling, Daniel
University of Amsterdam
Swedish University of Agricultural Sciences, Department of Aquatic Sciences and Assessment
Matteucci, Giorgio
Consiglio Nazionale delle Ricerche (CNR)
Meesenburg, Henning
Northwest German Forest Res Inst
Monteith, Don
NERC Natural Environment Research Council
Nikolaidis, Nikolaos P.
Tech Univ Crete
Pipan, Tanja
Slovenian Academy of Sciences and Arts (SASA)
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Sustainable Development Goals

SDG15 Life on land
SDG13 Climate action
SDG9 Build resilient infrastructure, promote inclusive and sustainable industrialization and foster innovation

UKÄ Subject classification

Other Earth and Related Environmental Sciences

Publication Identifiers


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