02 Nov 2023
 | 02 Nov 2023
Status: this preprint is open for discussion.

biospheremetrics v1.0.1: An R package to calculate two complementary terrestrial biosphere integrity indicators: human colonization of the biosphere (BioCol) and risk of ecosystem destabilization (EcoRisk)

Fabian Stenzel, Johanna Braun, Jannes Breier, Karlheinz Erb, Dieter Gerten, Jens Heinke, Sarah Matej, Sebastian Ostberg, Sibyll Schaphoff, and Wolfgang Lucht

Abstract. Ecosystems are under multiple stressors and impacts can be measured with multiple variables. Humans have altered mass and energy flows of basically all ecosystems on Earth towards dangerous levels. However, integrating the data and synthesizing conclusions is becoming more and more complicated. Here we present an automated and easy to apply R package to assess terrestrial biosphere integrity which combines 2 complementary metrics:

The BioCol metric quantifies the human colonization pressure exerted on the biosphere through alteration and extraction (appropriation) of net primary productivity, whereas the EcoRisk metric quantifies biogeochemical and vegetation structural changes as a proxy for the risk of ecosystem destabilization.

Applied to simulations with the dynamic global vegetation model LPJmL5 for 1500–2016, we find that presently (period 2007–2016), large regions show modification and extraction of >25 % of the preindustrial potential net primary production, leading to drastic alterations in key ecosystem properties and suggesting a high risk for ecosystem destabilization. In consequence of these dynamics, EcoRisk shows particularly high values in regions with intense land use and deforestation, but also in regions prone to impacts of climate change such as the arctic and boreal zone.

The metrics presented here enable global-scale, spatially explicit evaluation of historical and future states of the biosphere and are designed for use by the wider scientific community, not only limited to assessing biosphere integrity, but also to benchmark model performance.

The package will be maintained on GitHub and through that we encourage application also to other models and data sets.

Fabian Stenzel et al.

Status: open (until 07 Jan 2024)

Comment types: AC – author | RC – referee | CC – community | EC – editor | CEC – chief editor | : Report abuse

Fabian Stenzel et al.

Fabian Stenzel et al.


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Short summary
We provide an R package to compute two biosphere integrity metrics that can be applied to simulations of vegetation growth from the dynamic global vegetation model LPJmL. The pressure metric BioCol indicates that we humans modify and extract >25 % of the potential pre-industrial natural biomass production. The ecosystems state metric EcoRisk shows a high risk of ecosystem destabilization in many regions as a result of land, water, and fertilizer use, as well as climate change.