Linking functional diversity and social-actor strategies: a framework for interdisciplinary analysis of nature's benefits to society

S. Diaz, F. Quétier, D.M. Cáceres, S.F. Trainor, N. Pérez-Harguindeguy, M.S. Bret-Harte, B. Finegan, M. Peña-Claros, L. Poorter

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleAcademicpeer-review

202 Citations (Scopus)


The crucial role of biodiversity in the links between ecosystems and societies has been repeatedly highlighted both as source of wellbeing and as a target of human actions, but not all aspects of biodiversity are equally important to different ecosystem services. Similarly, different social actors have different perceptions of and access to ecosystem services, and therefore, they have different wants and capacities to select directly or indirectly for particular biodiversity and ecosystem characteristics. Their choices feed back onto the ecosystem services provided to all parties involved and in turn, affect future decisions. Despite this recognition, the research communities addressing biodiversity, ecosystem services, and human outcomes have yet to develop frameworks that adequately treat the multiple dimensions and interactions in the relationship. Here, we present an interdisciplinary framework for the analysis of relationships between functional diversity, ecosystem services, and human actions that is applicable to specific social environmental systems at local scales. We connect the mechanistic understanding of the ecological role of diversity with its social relevance: ecosystem services. The framework permits connections between functional diversity components and priorities of social actors using land use decisions and ecosystem services as the main links between these ecological and social components. We propose a matrix-based method that provides a transparent and flexible platform for quantifying and integrating social and ecological information and negotiating potentially conflicting land uses among multiple social actors. We illustrate the applicability of our framework by way of land use examples from temperate to subtropical South America, an area of rapid social and ecological change
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)895-902
JournalProceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America
Issue number3
Publication statusPublished - 2011


  • ecosystem services
  • land-use
  • sustainability science
  • vulnerability analysis
  • response diversity
  • climate-change
  • traits
  • consequences
  • conservation
  • agrobiodiversity


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