D7: Species supporting ecosystem functions

Interim Interim

Short description

All species have a functional role within ecosystems such as photosynthesis, respiration, decomposition, nutrient cycling, predator-prey and symbiotic relationships such as pollination. Plants, fungi, algae, invertebrates and soil micro-organisms are particularly important. The presence, abundance and diversity of species are key factors in determining the resilience of ecosystems to environmental changes, including climate change and disease, and the maintenance of ecosystem services. Further research is required to develop this indicator, building on the existing UK pollinator indicator and defining species groups and functions for inclusion.

This indicator is not available for reporting in 2021 in a finalised form. An interim indicator is presented here that shows trends in the distribution of UK pollinators. Significant further research and development is required to include a range of species groups important for supporting ecosystem functions in England. The interim indicator covers the changes in the distribution (occupancy of 1 km grid squares) of bees and hoverflies in the UK.

Trend description

There was an overall decrease in the UK pollinators index from 1987 onwards. In 2017, the index had declined by 30% compared to its value in 1980. More recently however, this downward trend has slowed, with the indicator decreasing by less than 2% between 2012 and 2017. These overall declines mask the trends of the individual species within the index, 49% of which have become less widespread, 19% of which have become more widespread and 32% of which have shown little or no change since the index began in 1980. By contrast, over the short term (between 2012 and 2017), a slightly greater proportion of species have become more widespread (46%) than have become less widespread (43%).


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This table provides metadata for the interim or final indicator presented above.

Indicator name

Species supporting ecosystem functions

Indicator reference


Outcome Indicator Framework theme


Headline indicator status

Nature on land and water

Relevant goal(s) in the 25 Year Environment Plan
  • Thriving plants and wildlife
Relevant target(s) in the 25 Year Environment Plan
  • Taking action to recover threatened, iconic or economically important species of animals, plants and fungi, and where possible to prevent human induced extinction or loss of known threatened species in England and the Overseas Territories
Position in the natural capital framework
  • Condition of assets - species and ecological communities
Related reporting commitments
  • Relevant to Convention on Biological Diversity Aichi
  • May also provide evidence in support of Climate Change Risk Assessment under the Climate Change Act (2008)
Geographic scope

England. The interim indicator is only available for the UK.

Status of indicator development


Date last updated

11 June 2021