Priorities for synthesis research in ecology and environmental science

Benjamin S. Halpern, Carl Boettiger, Michael C. Dietze, Jessica A. Gephart, Patrick Gonzalez, Nancy B. Grimm, Peter M. Groffman, Jessica Gurevitch, Sarah E. Hobbie, Kimberly J. Komatsu, Kristy J. Kroeker, Heather J. Lahr, David M. Lodge, Christopher J. Lortie, Julie S.S. Lowndes, Fiorenza Micheli, Hugh P. Possingham, Mary H. Ruckelshaus, Courtney Scarborough, Chelsea L. WoodGrace C. Wu, Lina Aoyama, Eva E. Arroyo, Christie A. Bahlai, Erin E. Beller, Rachael E. Blake, Karrigan S. Bork, Trevor A. Branch, Norah E.M. Brown, Julien Brun, Emilio M. Bruna, Lauren B. Buckley, Jessica L. Burnett, Max C.N. Castorani, Samantha H. Cheng, Sarah C. Cohen, Jessica L. Couture, Larry B. Crowder, Laura E. Dee, Arildo S. Dias, Ignacio J. Diaz-Maroto, Martha R. Downs, Joan C. Dudney, Erle C. Ellis, Kyle A. Emery, Jacob G. Eurich, Bridget E. Ferriss, Alexa Fredston, Hikaru Furukawa, Sara A. Gagné, Sarah R. Garlick, Colin J. Garroway, Kaitlyn M. Gaynor, Angélica L. González, Eliza M. Grames, Tamar Guy-Haim, Ed Hackett, Lauren M. Hallett, Tamara K. Harms, Danielle E. Haulsee, Kyle J. Haynes, Elliott L. Hazen, Rebecca M. Jarvis, Kristal Jones, Gaurav S. Kandlikar, Dustin W. Kincaid, Matthew L. Knope, Anil Koirala, Jurek Kolasa, John S. Kominoski, Julia Koricheva, Lesley T. Lancaster, Jake A. Lawlor, Heili E. Lowman, Frank E. Muller-Karger, Kari E.A. Norman, Nan Nourn, Casey C. O'Hara, Suzanne X. Ou, Jacqueline L. Padilla-Gamino, Paula Pappalardo, Ryan A. Peek, Dominique Pelletier, Stephen Plont, Lauren C. Ponisio, Cristina Portales-Reyes, Diogo B. Provete, Eric J. Raes, Carlos Ramirez-Reyes, Irene Ramos, Sydne Record, Anthony J. Richardson, Roberto Salguero-Gómez, Erin V. Satterthwaite, Chloé Schmidt, Aaron J. Schwartz, Craig R. See, Brendan D. Shea, Rachel S. Smith, Eric R. Sokol, Christopher T. Solomon, Trisha Spanbauer, Paris V. Stefanoudis, Beckett W. Sterner, Vitor Sudbrack, Jonathan D. Tonkin, Ashley R. Townes, Mireia Valle, Jonathan A. Walter, Kathryn I. Wheeler, William R. Wieder, David R. Williams, Marten Winter, Barbora Winterova, Lucy C. Woodall, Adam S. Wymore, Casey Youngflesh

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Synthesis research in ecology and environmental science improves understanding, advances theory, identifies research priorities, and supports management strategies by linking data, ideas, and tools. Accelerating environmental challenges increases the need to focus synthesis science on the most pressing questions. To leverage input from the broader research community, we convened a virtual workshop with participants from many countries and disciplines to examine how and where synthesis can address key questions and themes in ecology and environmental science in the coming decade. Seven priority research topics emerged: (1) diversity, equity, inclusion, and justice (DEIJ), (2) human and natural systems, (3) actionable and use-inspired science, (4) scale, (5) generality, (6) complexity and resilience, and (7) predictability. Additionally, two issues regarding the general practice of synthesis emerged: the need for increased participant diversity and inclusive research practices; and increased and improved data flow, access, and skill-building. These topics and practices provide a strategic vision for future synthesis in ecology and environmental science.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article numbere4342
Issue number1
StatePublished - Jan 2023
Externally publishedYes


  • complexity
  • coupled systems
  • diversity
  • ecological scale
  • justice
  • predictability
  • use-inspired science

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Ecology, Evolution, Behavior and Systematics
  • Ecology


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