ESA launches new OA journal with the Ecological Society of China

Ecosystem Health and Sustainability showcases applications of ecological science in support of sustainable development during an era of extensive and accelerating human and environmental change.

ESA and ESC logos

Today, the Ecological Society of America (ESA) and the Ecological Society of China (ESC) jointly launch a new open access scholarly research journal to foster communication of applied ecological research across national and disciplinary boundaries.

Ecosystem Health and Sustainability (EHS, ISSN: 2332-8878) features international collaborations, interdisciplinary research, and multi-scale projects.

“The new journal emphasizes research applying ecological science to decision-making in support of sustainable development at local, national, and international scales,” said Dr. Shirong Liu, president of the Ecological Society of China.

ehas-march2015-cover1 finalThe journal encourages integration of natural, social, and behavioral studies and seeks research with implications for strategic planning and governance.

EHS is the first ecological journal published cooperatively by two scientific societies headquartered in different countries,” said Dr. David Inouye, president of the Ecological Society of America. “But it was created to publish research on ecosystem health and sustainable development from scientists all over the world, not just China and the United States.”

A committee of ESA and ESC representatives selected Dr. Yonglong Lu, a distinguished professor at the Chinese Academy of Sciences, as EHS Editor-in-Chief for his solid grounding within the ecological research communities of both societies’ home countries. Dr. Lu has recruited 80 editorial and advisory board members from 27 countries. The journal is honored to include editors from Africa, Asia (including India and Russia), Europe, Oceania, and the Americas.

“The editors particularly look for submissions from scientists working in parts of the world experiencing rapid economic development and rapid environmental change,” said President Liu.

Editor-in-Chief Lu said fostering publication of research from developing and newly industrializing economies is vital. The new journal is an opportunity to build a truly global ecological resource.

“I am honored to take on this new role joining the efforts of the two societies, and would like to work together with peer scientists on getting the new journal recognized internationally. Ecosystem Health and Sustainability will open a platform for international cooperative research on ecology and sustainability science and promote communication between the scientists in developed and developing countries about applications of ecological science for sustainable development. This is very much needed,” said Dr. Lu.

The journal is published in English. It is open access and digital only, based on the model of ESA’s rapid-publication journal Ecosphere, which launched in 2010 and was recently indexed in Web of Science.

“We would like the new journal to become a home for data from big, multinational collaborations, including ongoing long-term research projects and interim results from broad-scale ecological assessments,” said President Inyoue, who has worked on many international efforts, such as a pollinator assessment currently under review for the Intergovernmental Panel on Biodiversity and Ecosystem Services.

EHS receives rigorous copy-editing from the production team that handles ESA’s traditional journals Ecology, Ecological Monographs, and Ecological Applications. The new joint journal expands the on scope of ESA’s existing journal family to further embrace big data and the rise of ecological research on a global scale, encouraging participation from parts of the world that have been underrepresented in the scientific literature.

“There is great science coming from regions of rapid development, but much of it is published in local journals that are not widely read or accessible,” said Katherine McCarter, executive director of ESA and publisher of EHS. “With so many ecological issues emerging around the world, we need more opportunities for quality research to be broadly distributed.”


Contents of the inaugural issue of Ecosystem Health and Sustainability, March 2015:

A new platform for ecologists to link ecology with policy. (editorial)

  • Yonglong Lu, Editor-in-Chief, Ecosystem Health and Sustainability
  • David W. Inouye, President, Ecological Society of America
  • Shirong Liu, President, Ecological Society of China


Global methane and nitrous oxide emissions from terrestrial ecosystems due to multiple environmental changes. (research report)

  • Hanqin Tian, Guangsheng Chen, Chaoqun Lu, Xiaofeng Xu, Wei Ren, Bowen Zhang, Kamaljit Banger, Bo Tao, Shufen Pan, Mingliang Liu, Chi Zhang, Lori Bruhwiler, and Steven Wofsy

Methane and nitrous oxide are potent greenhouse gases and important considerations for climate change mitigation strategies. But global and regional budgets of these gases are uncertain because direct emissions measurement is difficult. Emissions can be highly variable over small areas and short time spans, causing sampling to be misleading without using an unreasonably large number of samples. Carbon dioxide, methane, and nitrous oxide influence the production and consumption of each other within natural systems in complex and dynamic ways. Hanqin Tian and colleagues applied a model based on ecological theory to existing datasets from the last three decades to estimate global methane and nitrous oxide emissions simultaneously. They used the model to explore patterns of influence from the combined effects of multiple environmental factors. Nitrogen fertilizer use, atmospheric carbon dioxide, ozone pollution, soil properties, climate conditions, land use, and vegetation cover can affect emissions. Simulated emissions increased in most climatic zones and continents during 1981–2010, but the fastest increases occurred in tropical regions, particularly in natural wetlands and rice fields.


Global urbanization as a shifting context for applying ecological science toward the sustainable city. (review)

  • Steward T.A. Pickett, Weiqi Zhou

Cites are part of the natural world. The centers of commerce delineated by tall buildings, electric light, and concrete transport corridors are also habitats—dynamic and interconnected ecosystems. Ecologically informed urban design has the potential to guide the development of sustainable cities. But conceptual models of urban ecosystems must encompass global patterns of urban growth in the 21st century. Human migrations between fast-growing urban agglomerations and agricultural villages blur boundaries of city, suburb, exurb, countryside, and wilderness. In rapidly industrializing nations, mosaics of rural agriculture, high-rise buildings, gated communities, and informal shantytowns are appearing that do not necessarily follow patterns of industrialization in Australia, Europe, Japan, or North America. Picket and Zhou summarize and propose a synthesis of the complementary concepts of the “urban megaregion” and the continuum of urbanity” into a comprehensive and inclusive framework that applies urban ecological science with sustainable urban transformations.


Ecosystem health towards sustainability. (review)

  • Yonglong Lu, Ruoshi Wang, Hongqiao Su, Pei Wang, Alan Jenkins, Rober C. Ferrier, Mark Bailey, Geoff Squire

What is a healthy ecosystem? Health and dysfunction are qualitative perceptions of ecosystems, defined by the symptoms or indicators chosen to describe and monitor the systems. Definitions of ecosystem health reflect social needs and goals and, unavoidably, include value judgments. Ecologists and managers point to evidence of stable structure and function over time, even in the face of sudden external stresses, as key signifiers of ecosystem health. Though the concept of ecosystem health is not entirely objective, it can be useful for environmental management. To identify quantifiable indicators of ecosystem health, Lu and colleagues review methods and models for measuring ecosystem health and sustainability, offering criteria for selecting indicators appropriate to different types of ecosystems.


Climate change, Risky Business, and a Call to Action for Ecologists. (policy forum)

  • Jerry Melillo

In October 2013, the Risky Business Project, co-chaired by Michael R. Bloomberg, Henry Paulson, and Tom Steyer, commissioned an assessment of the economic risks posed by climate change. The report produced by these prominent financial leaders pointed out the potential for serious damage to the U.S. economy if steps toward mitigation and adaptation are not taken. It also painted a picture of hope for our capacity to manage climate risk. Ecologist Jerry Melillo sees this report from the business sector as a call to action. Ecologists, he says, need to get involved by bringing the ecological dimension of climate change into the economic conversation.