The place of agricultural sciences in the literature on ecosystem services

Elise Tancoigne, Marc Barbier, Jean-Philippe Cointet, Guy Richard: The place of agricultural sciences in the literature on ecosystem services. In: Ecosystem Services, vol. 10, pp. 35-48, 2014.


We performed a quantitative and qualitative analysis of the scientific literature on ecosystem services in order to help tracing a research agenda for agricultural sciences. The ecosystem services concept now lies at the heart of current developments to address global environmental change. Do agricultural sciences generate knowledge that covers this emerging theme? An analysis of scientific production allowed us to return to the ecological origins of this concept and see how little it has been appropriated by agricultural sciences until now, despite major focus on the issue of agro-ecosystems in the literature. Agricultural sciences tend to be more active in the field of environmental services, defined as services rendered by humans to ecosystems. The main studied services are those which have already been clearly identified and which act in synergy. Less attention is paid to the antagonisms between different services. These findings call for the implementation of agricultural research programmes that will consider the socio-agro-ecosystem as a whole and broaden the traditional issues addressed by agricultural sciences. We insist on three main management and operational issues that needs to be overcome if this is to be done: working at the landscape scale, increasing inter-disciplinary collaborations and take uncertainties into account.

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