Why geodiversity matters in valuing nature's stage

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Hjort, Jan, John E. Gordon, Murray Gray, and Malcolm L. Hunter
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Geodiversity—the variability of Earth's surface materials, forms, and physical processes—is an integral part of nature and crucial for sustaining ecosystems and their services. It provides the substrates, landform mosaics, and dynamic physical processes for habitat development and maintenance. By determining the heterogeneity of the physical environment in conjunction with climate interactions, geodiversity has a crucial influence on biodiversity across a wide range of scales. From a literature review, we identified the diverse values of geodiversity; examined examples of the dependencies of biodiversity on geodiversity at a site-specific scale (for geosites <1 km2 in area); and evaluated various human-induced threats to geosites and geodiversity. We found that geosites are important to biodiversity because they often support rare or unique biota adapted to distinctive environmental conditions or create a diversity of microenvironments that enhance species richness. Conservation of geodiversity in the face of a range of threats is critical both for effective management of nature's stage and for its own particular values. This requires approaches to nature conservation that integrate climate, biodiversity, and geodiversity at all spatial scales.


Hjort, Jan, John E. Gordon, Murray Gray, and Malcolm L. Hunter. 2015. “Why Geodiversity Matters in Valuing Nature’s Stage.” Conservation Biology, April, 29:630-639. doi:10.1111/cobi.12510.