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The Montérégie Connection: linking landscapes, biodiversity, and ecosystem services to improve decision making

Matthew G. E. Mitchell, Department of Natural Resource Sciences, McGill University; Department of Biology, McGill University; School of Geography, Planning and Environmental Management, University of Queensland
Elena M Bennett, Department of Natural Resource Sciences, McGill University; McGill School of Environment, McGill University
Andrew Gonzalez, Department of Biology, McGill University; Québec Centre for Biodiversity Science
Martin J Lechowicz, Department of Biology, McGill University
Jeanine M. Rhemtulla, Department of Forest and Conservation Sciences, University of British Columbia
Jeffrey A Cardille, Department of Natural Resource Sciences, McGill University; McGill School of Environment, McGill University
Kees Vanderheyden, Centre de la Nature Mont Saint-Hilaire
Geneviève Poirier-Ghys, Centre de la Nature Mont Saint-Hilaire
Delphine Renard, Department of Natural Resource Sciences, McGill University; Department of Geography, McGill University
Sylvestre Delmotte, Department of Natural Resource Sciences, McGill University
Cécile H Albert, Department of Biology, McGill University; Aix Marseille Université, CNRS, IRD, Avignon Université, Institut Méditerranéen de Biodiversité et d'Écologie (IMBE)
Bronwyn Rayfield, Department of Biology, McGill University
Maria Dumitru, Department of Biology, McGill University
Hsin-Hui Huang, Department of Bioresource Engineering, McGill University
Martine Larouche, Department of Geography, McGill University
Kate N Liss, Department of Natural Resource Sciences, McGill University
Dorothy Y Maguire, Department of Natural Resource Sciences, McGill University
Kyle T Martins, Department of Biology, McGill University
Marta Terrado, Department of Natural Resource Sciences, McGill University; Catalan Institute for Water Research (ICRA)
Carly Ziter, Department of Natural Resource Sciences, McGill University; Department of Biology, McGill University
Lucie Taliana, Department of Natural Resource Sciences, McGill University
Karine Dancose, Department of Natural Resource Sciences, McGill University

DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.5751/ES-07927-200415

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Abstract

To maximize specific ecosystem services (ES) such as food production, people alter landscape structure, i.e., the types of ecosystems present, their relative proportions, and their spatial arrangement across landscapes. This can have significant, and sometimes unexpected, effects on biodiversity and ES. Communities need information about how land-use activities and changes to landscape structure are likely to affect biodiversity and ES, but current scientific understanding of these effects is incomplete. The Montérégie Connection (MC) project has used the rapidly suburbanizing agricultural Montérégien landscape just east of Montreal, Québec, Canada, to investigate how current and historic landscape structure influences ES provision. Our results highlight the importance of forest connectivity and functional diversity on ES provision, and show that ES provision can vary significantly even within single land-use types in response to changes in landscape structure. Our historical analysis reveals that levels of ES provision, as well as relationships among individual ES, can change dramatically through time. We are using these results to build quantitative ES-landscape structure models to assess four future landscape scenarios for the region: Periurban Development, Demand for Energy, Whole-System Crisis, and Green Development. These scenarios integrate empirical and historical data on ES provision with local stakeholder input about global and local social and ecological drivers to explore how land-use decisions could affect ES provision and human well-being across the region to the year 2045. By integrating empirical data, quantitative models, and scenarios we have achieved the central goals of the MC project: (1) increasing understanding of the effects of landscape structure on biodiversity and ES provision, (2) effectively linking this knowledge to decision making to better manage for biodiversity and ES, and (3) creating a vision for a more sustainable social-ecological system in the region.

Key words

biodiversity; ecosystem services; landscape connectivity; landscape structure; Montérégie; Québec; periurban; scenarios

Copyright © 2015 by the author(s). Published here under license by The Resilience Alliance. This article  is under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial 4.0 International License.  You may share and adapt the work for noncommercial purposes provided the original author and source are credited, you indicate whether any changes were made, and you include a link to the license.

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