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Scale and ecosystem services: how do observation, management, and analysis shift with scale—lessons from Québec

Ciara Raudsepp-Hearne, McGill University
Garry D Peterson, Stockholm Resilience Centre, Stockholm University


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Ecosystem service assessment and management are shaped by the scale at which they are conducted; however, there has been little systematic investigation of the scales associated with ecosystem service processes, such as production, benefit distribution, and management. We examined how social-ecological spatial scale impacts ecosystem service assessment by comparing how ecosystem service distribution, trade-offs, and bundles shift across spatial scales. We used a case study in Québec, Canada, to analyze the scales of production, consumption, and management of 12 ecosystem services and to analyze how interactions among 7 of these ecosystem services change across 3 scales of observation (1, 9, and 75 km²). We found that ecosystem service patterns and interactions were relatively robust across scales of observation; however, we identified 4 different types of scale mismatches among ecosystem service production, consumption, and management. Based on this analysis, we have proposed 4 aspects of scale that ecosystem service assessments should consider.

Key words

covariance; ecosystem service bundles; Mont Saint-Hilaire; problem of fit; scaling; social-ecological; spatial; trade-offs

Copyright © 2016 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.

Ecology and Society. ISSN: 1708-3087