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Interactions Among Ecosystem Services Across Land Uses in a Floodplain Agroecosystem

María R. Felipe-Lucia, Instituto Pirenaico de Ecología-CSIC.
Francisco A. Comín, Instituto Pirenaico de Ecología-CSIC
Elena M. Bennett, Department of Natural Resource Sciences and McGill School of Environment, McGill University


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Managing human-dominated landscapes such as agroecosystems is one of the main challenges facing society today. Decisions about land-use management in agroecosystems involve spatial and temporal trade-offs. The key scales at which these trades-offs occur are poorly understood for most systems, and quantitative assessments of the services provided by agroecosystems under different combinations of land uses are rare. To fill these knowledge gaps, we measured 12 ecosystem services (ES), including climate regulation, gas regulation, soil stability, nutrient regulation, habitat quality, raw material production, food production, fishing, sports, recreation, education, and social relationships, in seven common land-use types at three spatial scales, i.e., patch, municipality, and landscape, in a riparian floodplain in Spain. We identified the provision of each ES in each land-use type either by direct measurement or from public databases. We analyzed the interactions, i.e., trade-offs and synergies, among ES across land uses and spatial scales and estimated ES provision in several land-use change scenarios. Our results illustrated that each land-use type provides unique bundles of ES and that the spatial scale at which measurements were taken affected the mixture of services. For instance, a land-use type with low provision of services per hectare but with an extensive area can supply more services to the overall landscape than a land-use type supplying higher values of services per hectare but with a smaller extent. Hence, riparian forest supplied the most service of any land-use type at the patch scale, but dry cereal croplands provided the most services across the municipality and landscape because of their large area. We found that most ES should be managed primarily at the patch scale, but food production, fishing, and social relationships were more relevant to manage at the municipality scale. There was great variability in ES interactions across scales with different causes of trade-offs at each scale. We identified more significant synergies among ES than trade-offs. Trade-offs were originated because some services were mutually incompatible within a given land use, whereas the provision of others depended on land-management decisions within a land-use type. Thus, we propose a classification of ES interactions that incorporates societal values as drivers of management decisions along with biophysical factors as likely causes of ES trade-offs and conclude with practical suggestions to reduce trade-offs and to enhance the supply of multiple ES to society.

Key words

agroecosystem; ecosystem services; floodplain; interactions; land uses; spatial scales; trade-offs

Copyright © 2014 by the author(s). Published here under license by The Resilience Alliance. This article is under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License. You may share and adapt the work provided the original author and source are credited, you indicate whether any changes were made, and you include a link to the license.

Ecology and Society. ISSN: 1708-3087