Biodiversity and the provision of multiple ecosystem services in current and future lowland multifunctional landscapes


Consortium Leader:

James Bullock, Centre for Ecology and Hydrology (CEH)


• CEH: Richard Pywell, Tom Oliver, Nick Ostle, France Gerard and Rob Griffiths.

• Lancaster University: Richard Bardgett.

• Queen Mary University of London: Iwan Jones and John Murphy.

• Rothamsted Research: Juliet Osborne and Judith Pell.

• Cranfield University: Anil Graves, David Parsons and Joe Morris.

• Royal Society for the Protection of Birds: Richard Bradbury.

Photo: Wessex-BESS


Biodiversity underpins many ecosystem services, yet the way in which biodiversity affects different services is poorly understood. It is particularly important to understand these relationships in lowland agricultural landscapes where many of these services are in conflict, such as crop production, climate regulation and cultural services. This project will address the fundamental challenge of the BESS programme in linking biodiversity change with delivery of ecosystem services by integrating experiments with large-scale biodiversity and environmental gradients existing in the Wessex Chalk landscape. Consisting of arable, riverine and grassland ecosystems, this landscape contains large areas of unfragmented semi-natural habitat whilst sharing the topography and deeper chalk soils of the surrounding intensive farmland, thus making comparisons possible.

Furthermore, the area contains many ecological restoration programmes that will be used by the project as experimental platforms for large-scale biodiversity manipulations. Collaboration with other initiatives using this landscape will add scientific value and impact, and partnership with a large number of conservation and land/water management organisations will ensure the research and findings have applied and policy relevance.

Area of Study:

Wessex Chalk landscape.
Photo: Wessex BESS

Ecosystem services to be tackled:

Multiple ecosystem services delivered in the Wessex Chalk area as an exemplar of lowland, multi-functional, agricultural landscape.

Key services include:

  • Climate change mitigated by greenhouse gas regulation
  • Water-related services of fisheries and clean water
  • Crop production enhanced by pollination and pest control
  • Cultural services relating to recreation and aesthetics.

Stakeholder community for this project:

A number of public bodies, NGOs and private companies will be actively engaged with the research and will act as 'end-users' by implementation of the research findings in the Wessex chalk region.