Linking Landscape Connectivity and Ecosystem Service Provision: Current Knowledge and Research Gaps
- 4.1k Downloads
Human activities are rapidly changing ecosystems, landscapes and ecosystem service provision, yet there remain significant gaps in our understanding of the spatial ecology of ecosystem services. These gaps hinder our ability to manage landscapes effectively for multiple ecosystem services. In particular, we do not fully understand how changes in landscape connectivity affect ecosystem service provision, despite theory suggesting that connectivity is important. Here, we perform a semi-quantitative review of the literature that investigates how landscape connectivity affects the provision of specific ecosystem services. The vast majority of studies, including reviews, models, and field studies, suggest that decreased connectivity will have negative effects on ecosystem service provision. However, only 15 studies provided empirical evidence of these effects. Average effect sizes from these 15 studies suggest negative effects of connectivity loss on pollination and pest regulation. We identify a number of significant gaps in the connectivity-ecosystem services literature, including: a lack of multiple service studies, which precludes identification of trade-offs between services as connectivity changes; few studies that directly measure organism movement and its effects on ecosystem services; and few empirical studies that investigate the importance of abiotic flows on service provision. We propose that future research should aim to understand how different aspects of connectivity affect ecosystem service provision; which services are most influenced by connectivity; and how connectivity influences how humans access and benefit from ecosystem services. Studies that answer these questions will advance our understanding of connectivity-ecosystem service provision relationships and allow for better ecosystem and landscape management and restoration.
Key wordsbiodiversity connectivity ecosystem management ecosystem services fragmentation landscape dispersal
This work was supported by an NSERC PGS-D scholarship to MGEM and an NSERC Strategic Projects Grant to EMB and AG. AG is supported by the Canada Research Chair Program. We thank G. MacDonald and two anonymous reviewers for their comments, which helped improve the paper.
- Bagstad KJ, Johnson GW, Voigt B, Villa F. 2012. Spatial dynamics of ecosystem service flows: a comprehensive approach to quantifying actual services. Ecosyst Serv. doi: 10.1016/j.ecoser.2012.07.012.
- Ehrlich G, Alexander S, Ehrlich P, Goulder L, Lubchenco J, Matson P, Mooney H, Postel S, Schneider S, Tilman D, Woodwell G. 1997. Ecosystem services: benefits supplied to human societies by natural ecosystems. Issues Ecol 2:1–16.Google Scholar
- Gonzalez A, Mouquet N, Loreau M. 2009. Biodiversity as spatial insurance: the effects of habitat fragmentation and dispersal on ecosystem functioning. In: Naeem S, Bunker DE, Hector A, Loreau M, Perrings C, Eds. Biodiversity, ecosystem functioning, and human wellbeing. New York: Oxford University Press. p 134–46.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
- Holt RD. 1993. Ecology at the mesoscale: the influence of regional processes on local communities. In: Ricklefs RE, Schluter D, Eds. Species diversity in ecological communities. Chicago: University of Chicago Press. p 77–88.Google Scholar
- Kindlmann P, Burel F. 2008. Connectivity measures: a review. Landscape Ecol 23:879–90.Google Scholar
- Kremen C, Williams NM, Aizen MA, Gemmill-Herren B, LeBuhn G, Minckley R, Packer L, Potts SG, Roulston T, Steffan-Dewenter I, Vazquez DP, Winfree R, Adams L, Crone EE, Greenleaf SS, Keitt TH, Klein A-M, Regetz J, Ricketts TH. 2007. Pollination and other ecosystem services produced by mobile organisms: a conceptual framework for the effects of land-use change. Ecol Lett 10:299–314.PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
- MA (Millennium Ecosystem Assessment). 2005. Ecosystem and human well-being. Washington DC: Island Press. p 137p.Google Scholar
- Nicholson E, Mace GM, Armsworth PR, Atkinson G, Buckle S, Clements T, Ewers RM, Fa JE, Gardner TA, Gibbons J, Grenyer R, Metcalfe R, Mourato S, Muuls M, Osborn D, Reuman DC, Watson C, Milner-Gulland EJ. 2009. Priority research areas for ecosystem services in a changing world. J Appl Ecol 46:1139–44.Google Scholar
- Perz SG, Cabrera L, Carvalho LA, Castillo J, Chacacanta R, Cossio RE, Solano YF, Hoelle J, Perales LM, Puerta I, Céspedes DR, Camacho IR, Silva AC. 2012. Regional integration and local change: road paving, community connectivity, and social-ecological resilience in a tri-national frontier, southwestern Amazonia. Reg Environ Change 12:35–53.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
- Ricketts TH, Regetz J, Steffan-Dewenter I, Cunningham SA, Kremen C, Bogdanski A, Gemmill-Herren B, Greenleaf SS, Klein A-M, Mayfield MM, Morandin LA, Ochieng A, Viana BF. 2008. Landscape effects on crop pollination services: are there general patterns? Ecol Lett 11:499–515.PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
- UNEP (United Nations Environment Programme). 2006. Marine and Coastal Ecosystems and Human Well-being. Nairobi: UNEP. p 64p.Google Scholar