In this chapter

2011

A commonly used historical reference point for State of the Environment (SoE) and related assessments is the biodiversity understood to exist immediately before European settlement of Australia (approximately 1750). This reference point has been accepted as the basis for planning Australia’s National Reserve System and biodiversity conservation strategies. In this report, we consider, where possible, changes in biodiversity over the past 15 years (the period of the previous national SoE reports), but also reference current conditions to those thought to exist in 1750.

This chapter draws on information on biodiversity that is reported in other chapters and in research papers; summarises and synthesises assessments from state and territory SoE reports; and presents additional analyses. The Assessment of Australia’s terrestrial biodiversity 200815 is a key source.

Biodiversity indicators for national SoE reporting were developed in the first (1996) and subsequent reports. While these remain valid, the indicators used since 1996 have differed from report to report, due largely to the lack of information available. There is no standardised national set of biodiversity indicators, and different states and territories use different indicators. In this report, we have considered most of the indicators used in previous reports, and used that to inform the higher-level assessment summaries included in each section.

Table 8.2 Ecosystem services and their ecosystem service providers
Service Ecosystem service providers or trophic level Functional unitsa Spatial scalea
Aesthetic, cultural All biodiversity Populations, species, communities, ecosystems Local–global
Ecosystem goods Diverse species Populations, species, communities, ecosystems Local–global
Ultraviolet protection Biogeochemical cycles, microorganisms, plants Biogeochemical cycles, functional groups Global
Purification of air Microorganisms, plants Biogeochemical cycles, populations, species, functional groups Regional–global
Flood mitigation Vegetation Communities, habitats Local–regional
Drought mitigation Vegetation Communities, habitats Local–regional
Climate stability Vegetation Communities, habitats Local–global
Pollination Insects, birds, mammals Populations, species, functional groups Local
Seed dispersal Insects, birds, mammals, reptilesb Populations, species, functional groups Local
Pest control Invertebrate parasitoids and predators, and vertebrate predators Populations, species, functional groups Local
Purification of water Vegetation, soil microorganisms, aquatic microorganisms, aquatic invertebrates Populations, species, functional groups, communities, habitats Local–regional
Detoxification and decomposition of wastes Leaf litter and soil invertebrates; soil microorganisms; aquatic microorganisms Populations, species, functional groups, communities, habitats Local–regional
Soil generation and soil fertility Leaf litter and soil invertebrates; soil microorganisms; nitrogen-fixing plants; plant and animal production of waste products Populations, species, functional groups Local

a ‘Functional units’ refer to the unit of study for assessing functional contributions of ecosystem service providers; spatial scale indicates the scale(s) of operation of the service. The author’s assessment of the potential to apply this conceptual framework to the service was purposefully conservative and is based on the degree to which the contributions of individual species or communities can currently be quantified.

b Reptiles were not included in the original paper, but have been shown to be effective seed dispersers12-13

Source: Kremen14

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Cork S (2011). Biodiversity: In this chapter. In: Australia state of the environment 2011, Australian Government Department of the Environment and Energy, Canberra, https://soe.environment.gov.au/science/soe/2011-report/8-biodiversity/1-introduction/1-3-in-this-chapter, DOI 10.4226/94/58b65ac828812