A part of the co-authorship network showing some of the centre authors. Size of circles: number of papers by each author on ecosystem services. Colour of circles: country of author. Width of lines connecting authors: number of co-authored papers. Source: Costanza and Kubiszewski, 2012

Ecosystem services research

A centre in the centre

Centre researchers influential in ecosystem services research


Ecosystem services has become a well established concept. So much so in fact that it warrants it’s very own academic journal. In the inaugural issue of the new journal "Ecosystem Services" centre associated researcher Robert Costanza and Ida Kubiszewski from the Crawford School of Public Policy, Australian National University, have looked at the patterns of publications and co-authorship in the field.

In the last 30 years, the level of scholarship and research on, or related to, ecosystem services has been on the rise. This is largely the result of global environmental change awareness and the efforts to address it, including much of the work that Stockholm Resilience Centre and its predecessors have been doing.

"These issues are not organized into neatly discipline-shaped boxes; they call for new perspectives and collaborations," say Costanza and Kubiszewski.

From chemists to historians
Costanza and Kubiszewski point out that the diversity of ecosystems services research brings together everyone from historians to natural scientists to political thinkers.

They also conclude that this diversity has caused difficulties in getting research published. Not many traditional academic journals cater to the interdisciplinary nature of the subject.

The authors also note a rise in the number of coauthors for the articles that are published. Curious by this phenomenon, they decided to model the data to gain a more "coherent picture" of research participation.

Ecological economics
From their model of a sample of roughly 3000 articles they could identify 172 key authors. Among these are several researchers at the Stockholm Resilience Centre; Carl Folke, Reinette "Oonsie" Biggs, Garry Peterson, Per Olsson, Thomas Elmqvist, Johan Colding, Åsa Gren (previously Jansson) and Brian Walker were among those most "well-connected" in the emerging field (see network diagram of co-authorship).

Interestingly, many of the key authors in the field are or have been associated with the Beijer Institute of Ecological Economics. Its network of hundreds of respected scholars worldwide has been instrumental in developing the ecosystem services concept and today’s research agenda of the Stockholm Resilience Centre.

Rewarding transdisciplinary scholars
Costanza and Kubiszewski argue that new forms of authorship acknowledgement might help incentivize broader research into resilience and ecosystem services.

They conclude that new ways of thinking about authorship might "help to better acknowledge and reward transdisciplinary scholars, like those studying ecosystem services, and allow academia to better address the wickedly complex problems we now face".

Published: 2013-02-15

Related info


Costanza, R., Kubiszewski, I. 2012. The authorship structure of "ecosystem services" as a transdisciplinary field of scholarship. Ecosystem Services. http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/ j.ecoser.2012.06.002


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