pp 1–17 | Cite as

Temporal patterns in ecosystem services research: A review and three recommendations

  • Anna-Lena RauEmail author
  • Verena Burkhardt
  • Christian Dorninger
  • Cecilia Hjort
  • Karin Ibe
  • Lisa Keßler
  • Jeppe A. Kristensen
  • Andrew McRobert
  • William Sidemo-Holm
  • Heike Zimmermann
  • David J. Abson
  • Henrik von Wehrden
  • Johan Ekroos


Temporal aspects of ecosystem services have gained surprisingly little attention given that ecosystem service flows are not static but change over time. We present the first systematic review to describe and establish how studies have assessed temporal patterns in supply and demand of ecosystem services. 295 studies, 2% of all studies engaging with the ecosystem service concept, considered changes in ecosystem services over time. Changes were mainly characterised as monotonic and linear (81%), rather than non-linear or through system shocks. Further, a lack of focus of changing ecosystem service demand (rather than supply) hampers our understanding of the temporal patterns of ecosystem services provision and use. Future studies on changes in ecosystem services over time should (1) more explicitly study temporal patterns, (2) analyse trade-offs and synergies between services over time, and (3) integrate changes in supply and demand and involve and empower stakeholders in temporal ecosystem services research.


Ecosystem service dynamics Ecosystem service supply Linear change Periodic change Stakeholder involvement 



This work was supported by the German Academic Exchange Service (DAAD) and by the strategic research environment BECC, hosted by CEC at Lund University.

Supplementary material

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Copyright information

© Royal Swedish Academy of Sciences 2019

Authors and Affiliations

  • Anna-Lena Rau
    • 1
    Email author
  • Verena Burkhardt
    • 1
  • Christian Dorninger
    • 1
  • Cecilia Hjort
    • 2
    • 5
  • Karin Ibe
    • 1
    • 6
  • Lisa Keßler
    • 1
  • Jeppe A. Kristensen
    • 3
  • Andrew McRobert
    • 3
  • William Sidemo-Holm
    • 2
  • Heike Zimmermann
    • 1
  • David J. Abson
    • 1
    • 7
  • Henrik von Wehrden
    • 1
    • 4
  • Johan Ekroos
    • 2
  1. 1.Faculty of SustainabilityLeuphana UniversityLüneburgGermany
  2. 2.Centre for Environmental and Climate ResearchLund UniversityLundSweden
  3. 3.Department of Physical Geography and Ecosystem ScienceLund UniversityLundSweden
  4. 4.Arizona State UniversityTempeUSA
  5. 5.Biodiversity, Department of BiologyLund UniversityLundSweden
  6. 6.Faculty of Sustainability, Institute of EcologyLeuphana UniversityLüneburgGermany
  7. 7.Faculty of Sustainability, Center for Sustainability ManagementLeuphana UniversityLüneburgGermany

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