Where communities intermingle, diversity grows: The evolution of topics in ecosystem service research

Forskningsoutput: TidskriftsbidragArtikel i vetenskaplig tidskrift


We analyze how the content of ecosystem service research has evolved since the early 1990s. Conducting a computational bibliometric content analysis we process a corpus of 14,118 peer-reviewed scientific article abstracts on ecosystem services (ES) from Web of Science records. To provide a comprehensive content analysis of ES research literature, we employ a latent Dirichlet allocation algorithm. For three different time periods (1990–2000, 2001–2010, 2011–2016), we derive nine main ES topics arising from content analysis and elaborate on how they are related over time. The results show that natural science-based ES research analyzes oceanic, freshwater, agricultural, forest, and soil ecosystems. Pollination and land cover emerge as traceable standalone topics around 2001. Social science ES literature demonstrates a reflexive and critical lens on the role of ES research and includes critiques of market-oriented perspectives. The area where social and natural science converge most is about land use systems such as agriculture. Overall, we provide evidence of the strong natural science foundation, the highly interdisciplinary nature of ES research, and a shift in social ES research towards integrated assessments and governance approaches. Furthermore, we discuss potential reasons for observable topic developments.


Enheter & grupper
Externa organisationer
  • University of Helsinki
  • University of California, Berkeley
  • Helmholtz Centre for Environmental Research
  • Martin-Luther-Universität Halle-Wittenberg
  • Facultad Latinoamericana de Ciencias Sociales (FLACSO Ecuador)

Ämnesklassifikation (UKÄ) – OBLIGATORISK

  • Miljövetenskap
  • Ekologi
Antal sidor19
TidskriftPLoS ONE
Utgåva nummer9
StatusPublished - 2018 sep 28
Peer review utfördJa