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Research article - Peer-reviewed, 2015

Ecosystem disservices research: A review of the state of the art with a focus on cities

von Doehren, Peer; Haase, Dagmar


Ecosystem services, the benefits produced by ecosystem functions and structures for human well-being, have received continuous international attention since the publication of the Millennium Ecosystem Assessment (MA) and the TEEB study (The Economics of Ecosystem Services and Biodiversity). Ecosystem functions also have effects that are harmful to human well-being, and these effects are called ecosystem disservices (EDS). The aim of this paper is to explore how ecosystem disservices have been recognised in the scientific literature and how the concept has been used in the discussion of socio-ecological systems. The paper analyses 103 studies on EDS. We use a quantitative approach to assess geographical spread, focus and indicator choice. This quantitative picture is supplemented by a qualitative discussion of the effects of ecosystem disservices on urban systems and cities. The results of the review show that although the idea of detrimental ecosystem effects is not new, systematic research on EDS has only just begun. Most studies on EDS focus on Western Europe or the USA. EDS have been more frequently discussed in the most human-dominated ecosystem types: i.e., in agricultural and urban ecosystems. The latter in particular will be central for future research on EDS, considering that more than 75% of the world's population is expected to live in urban environments by 2050. (C) 2015 Elsevier Ltd. All rights reserved.


Ecosystem disservices; Human well-being; Literature review; Cities; Indicators

Published in

Ecological Indicators
2015, Volume: 52, pages: 490-497

    UKÄ Subject classification

    Other Earth and Related Environmental Sciences

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