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Ecosystem Services of Tropical Dry Forests: Insights from Long-term Ecological and Social Research on the Pacific Coast of Mexico

J. Manuel Maass, Universidad Nacional Autónoma de México
Patricia Balvanera, Universidad Nacional Autónoma de México
Alicia Castillo, Universidad Nacional Autónoma de México
Gretchen C Daily, Stanford University
Harold A Mooney, Stanford University
Paul Ehrlich, Stanford University
Mauricio Quesada, Universidad Nacional Autónoma de México
Alvaro Miranda, Fundación Ecológica de Cuixmala
Victor J Jaramillo, Universidad Nacional Autónoma de México
Felipe García-Oliva, Universidad Nacional Autónoma de México
Angelina Martínez-Yrizar, Universidad Nacional Autónoma de México
Helena Cotler, Instituto Nacional de Ecología
Jorge López-Blanco, Universidad Nacional Autónoma de México
Alfredo Pérez-Jiménez, Universidad Nacional Autónoma de México
Alberto Búrquez, Universidad Nacional Autónoma de México
Clara Tinoco, Universidad Nacional Autónoma de México
Gerardo Ceballos, Universidad Nacional Autónoma de México
Laura Barraza, Universidad Nacional Autónoma de México
Ricardo Ayala, Universidad Nacional Autónoma de México
José Sarukhán, Universidad Nacional Autónoma de México

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Abstract

In the search for an integrated understanding of the relationships among productive activities, human well-being, and ecosystem functioning, we evaluated the services delivered by a tropical dry forest (TDF) ecosystem in the Chamela Region, on the Pacific Coast of Mexico. We synthesized information gathered for the past two decades as part of a long-term ecosystem research study and included social data collected in the past four years using the Millennium Ecosystem Assessment (MA) conceptual framework as a guide. Here we identify the four nested spatial scales at which information has been obtained and emphasize one of them through a basin conceptual model. We then articulate the biophysical and socio-economic constraints and drivers determining the delivery of ecosystem services in the Region. We describe the nine most important services, the stakeholders who benefit from those services, and their degree of awareness of such services. We characterize spatial and temporal patterns of the services’ delivery as well as trade-offs among services and stakeholders. Finally, we contrast three alternative future scenarios on the delivery of ecosystem services and human well-being. Biophysical and socioeconomic features of the study site strongly influence human−ecosystem interactions, the ecosystem services delivered, the possible future trajectories of the ecosystem, and the effect on human well-being. We discuss future research approaches that will set the basis for an integrated understanding of human−ecosystem interactions and for constructing sustainable management strategies for the TDF.

Key words

Chamela Region; ecological economics; ecosystem services; integrative research; Mexico, Pacific Coast; Millennium Ecosystem Assessment; socioecological systems; tropical dry forest
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Ecology and Society. ISSN: 1708-3087