Our science framework can be summarised by the figure below (adapted from Chapin et al. 1997 Nature) which illustrates how the composition and diversity of ecosystems, and the functional traits these species possess, affect community, ecosystem and regional level processes and the services they provided to society. This conceptual framework allows us to highlight three major guiding questions that the SAEON Fynbos Node believes are critical to understanding our environment so that we may inform decision-making for maintaining and improving societal benefits.
The questions are:
1) What determines the composition and diversity of communities and ecosystems?
2) How does the composition and diversity of communities affect ecosystem processes and societal benefits derived from these processes?
3) How do global change factors impact on the composition and diversity of ecosystems and on subsequent ecosystem function?