If you’ve ever found yourself concerned about the extinction rate of bees, and then noticed that, down the street, your local greenhouse is selling plants for pollinators, you’ve been witness to different faces of biological feedback. 

In some parts of our lives, we are aware that humans, animals, and plants interact to shape the biodiversity of ecosystems in dynamic ways. Yet in other parts of our collective lives, we aren’t benefitting fully from a scientific understanding of biological feedback.

In a new article in The Proceedings of the Royal Society B, SFI External Professor Mary I. O’Connor (University of British Columbia) and her colleagues argue that public policy would benefit greatly if it were informed by the science of biological feedback. In order for human communities to reap the benefits, however, scientists have some work to do. The research team investigated seven outstanding knowledge gaps, which can be addressed through an ambitious multidisciplinary research agenda, to clarify the ecological consequences of biodiversity feedbacks. Ultimately, the authors hope that by proposing better models of biological feedback, their work will help initiate a new feedback loop in scientific-political collaboration.

Read the paper, "Grand challenges in biodiversity–ecosystem functioning research in the era of science–policy platforms require explicit consideration of feedbacks," in Proceedings of the Royal Society B (October 13, 2021). DOI: 10.1098/rspb.2021.0783