Web of interactions among diversity approaches to identify ecosystem essential variables: Negev Highlands case study

Shayli Dor-Haim, Daniel E. Orenstein, Moshe Shachak

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

1 Scopus citations


The concept of ecosystem diversity essential variables (EEVs) offers a foundation for ecosystem studies. Identification of EEVs continues to be a challenge in the field of ecology, due to the lack of a conceptual and applied framework. This paper develops a conceptual framework, offering theoretical foundation and a methodology for identifying EEVs, reflecting essential biodiversity and geodiversity variables. We start with a conceptual model of ecosystem essential variables linking biodiversity and geodiversity processes into ecosystem diversity as a web of interactions (WoI). The WoI components and interactions enable the identification of EEVs and their essentiality by relating interactions among diversities to variables that identify them. We tested our conceptual pass way by analyzing drivers and feedbacks of ecosystem processes in the Negev Highlands. Based on the general models and research of the Negev Highlands, we present four steps for EEVs: (1) developing a general conceptual model of the abiotic and biotic components of the ecosystem that links both biodiversity and geodiversity and their interactions; (2) testing the validity of the general model for a specific ecosystem to find out the hydro-geo-ecological drivers and feedbacks controlling ecosystem diversity; (3) constructing a WoI that adds to the regular analysis of an ecosystem as an interaction among geodiversity and biodiversity by breaking down the two components of diversities into subcomponent and their interactions; and (4) translating of the WoI components and interactions to EEVs. We suggest that EEVs should be related not only to the components but also to the interactions among diversities. These steps are essential for developing a scientific framework that allows for systematic identification of EEVs and justification regarding the final selection of the essential variables. We suggest that the approach can potentially be applied to all global terrestrial system.

Original languageEnglish
Article numbere02906
Issue number11
StatePublished - 1 Nov 2019


  • biodiversity
  • cross-level interaction
  • ecosystem services
  • essential biodiversity variables
  • essential geodiversity variables
  • geodiversity
  • source–sink relationship

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Ecology, Evolution, Behavior and Systematics
  • Ecology


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