Ecosystem services has gone from a largely unknown term to a widely influential concept with far reaching impact. Dr. Harold Mooney has played a leading role in this transition, driving major analytical advances in relevant fields and connecting them to policy. From the seminal paper introducing ecosystem services, to his most recent book on the ecosystems—and services-- of California, Dr. Mooney’s publications have set the direction for the field. We will survey several of Dr. Mooney’s major contributions to the field of ecosystem services and its rise to central prominence on the global stage through the establishment of the Intergovernmental Science-Policy Platform on Biodiversity and Ecosystem Services (IPBES).
Dr. Mooney’s contributions have connected ecosystem processes from carbon and nutrient cycling to hydrology and trophic pathways with ecosystem services. His synthesis and field research have dramatically advanced our understanding of ecosystem services in coastal mangroves, deserts, grasslands, tropical forests, and agricultural systems. With a keen ability to link local to global scales, Dr. Mooney has guided major efforts to standardize ecosystem service metrics, and spearheaded the inclusion of these metrics in the premier global biodiversity monitoring system, GEO BON. In a monumental effort to make the assessment of ecosystem services central to global dialogue, Dr. Mooney was essential in the establishment of IPBES, a platform to support ecosystem service assessment at a planetary scale in response to decision-maker needs. IPBES has already produced reports on scenarios and models for biodiversity and ecosystem service analysis and on pollinators and food systems. The first regional and global assessments are underway, providing critical input at a time when our need to understand connections between the planet and our own future is intensified by climate change and shifting political landscapes. Dr. Mooney’s work has inspired generations of researchers, and transformed the way we view links between nature and society.