Federal Coordinating Lead Authors:
Shawn Carter, U.S. Geological Survey
Jay Peterson, National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration
Chapter Leads:
Douglas Lipton, National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration
Madeleine A. Rubenstein, U.S. Geological Survey
Sarah R. Weiskopf, U.S. Geological Survey
Chapter Authors:
Lisa Crozier, National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration
Michael Fogarty, National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration
Sarah Gaichas, National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration
Kimberly J. W. Hyde, National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration
Toni Lyn Morelli, U.S. Geological Survey
Jeffrey Morisette, U.S. Department of the Interior, National Invasive Species Council Secretariat
Hassan Moustahfid, National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration
Roldan Muñoz, National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration
Rajendra Poudel, National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration
Michelle D. Staudinger, U.S. Geological Survey
Charles Stock, National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration
Laura Thompson, U.S. Geological Survey
Robin Waples, National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration
Jake F. Weltzin, U.S. Geological Survey
Review Editor:
Gregg Marland, Appalachian State University
USGCRP Coordinators:
Matthew Dzaugis, Program Coordinator
Allyza Lustig, Program Coordinator

Ecosystems, Ecosystem Services, and Biodiversity

All life on Earth, including humans, depends on the services that ecosystems provide, including food and materials, protection from extreme events, improved quality of water and air, and a wide range of cultural and aesthetic values. Such services are lost or compromised when the ecosystems that provide them cease to function effectively. Healthy ecosystems have two primary components: the species that live within them, and the interactions among species and between species and their environment. Biodiversity and ecosystem services are intrinsically linked: biodiversity contributes to the processes that underpin ecosystem services; biodiversity can serve as an ecosystem service in and of itself (for example, genetic resources for drug development); and biodiversity constitutes an ecosystem good that is directly valued by humans (for example, appreciation for variety in its own right).3 Significant environmental change, such as climate change, poses risks to species, ecosystems, and the services that humans rely on. Consequently, identifying measures to minimize, cope with, or respond to the negative impacts of climate change is necessary to reduce biodiversity loss and to sustain ecosystem services.4

This chapter focuses on the impacts of climate change at multiple scales: the populations and species of living things that form ecosystems; the properties and processes that support ecosystems; and the ecosystem services that underpin human communities, economies, and well-being. The key messages from NCA3 (Table 7.1) have been strengthened over the last four years by new research and monitoring networks. This chapter builds on the NCA3 findings and specifically emphasizes how climate impacts interact with non-climate stressors to affect ecosystem services. Furthermore, it describes new advances in climate adaptation efforts, as well as the challenges natural resource managers face when seeking to sustain ecosystems or to mitigate climate change (Figure 7.1).