Global analysis of reef ecosystem services reveals synergies, trade-offs and bundles

Kara E. Pellowe*, Megan Meacham, Garry D. Peterson, Steven J. Lade

*Corresponding author for this work

    Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

    8 Citations (Scopus)


    Millions of people around the world depend on the ecosystem services produced by rocky and coral reef ecosystems, including nutrition, aesthetic value, and coastal protection. Rocky and coral reefs also contribute to critical global and regional processes through the cycling of nitrogen, phosphorus, and carbon. The increased stress experienced by reefs in the Anthropocene threatens their ability to provide vital ecosystem services. This study investigates bundles of ecosystem services, ecosystem services that occur together, to identify trade-offs and synergies among services produced by coral reefs. To do this, we bring together estimates of seven ecosystem services: productivity, nitrogen cycling, phosphorus cycling, inorganic carbon cycling, aesthetic value, nutritional value, and coastal protection. We use correlations analysis to understand trade-offs and synergies between these seven ecosystem services and cluster analysis to identify clusters of reefs with distinct suites of ecosystem services, or ecosystem service bundles. Our analysis reveals (1) synergies and trade-offs among the seven ecosystem services, and (2) three distinct clusters of reefs, which differ on the basis of their overall and relative delivery of ecosystem services. Differences in service production among the clusters appear to be linked to differences in key ecological traits, including total reef fish biomass and species richness. Similar applications of ecosystem service bundles analysis in other marine and coastal systems could result in improved understanding of the spatial distributions and relationships between marine ecosystem services, which is a key input to marine policy.

    Original languageEnglish
    Article number101545
    JournalEcosystem Services
    Publication statusPublished - Oct 2023


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