Landscape Ecology

, Volume 26, Issue 1, pp 109–124 | Cite as

Modelling dynamics of ecosystem services basket in Mediterranean landscapes: a tool for rational management

  • Gili KoniakEmail author
  • Imanuel Noy-Meir
  • Avi Perevolotsky
Research Article


Natural ecosystems are life-supporting systems providing diverse ecosystem services (ESs) and benefits to human societies: e.g., food and clean water, recreation opportunities or climate regulation. The contribution of natural and semi-natural ecosystems to the provision of such services depends to a large extent on vegetation structure and composition, which, in turn, change as a result of interactions between human decisions about land management, and spontaneous biological and environmental processes. Rational management of these dynamic ecosystems requires an ability to predict short- and long-term effects of management decisions on the desired ESs. The vegetation then contributes to, and modifies, the products and services obtained from the land. We applied mathematical modeling to study these complex relationships. We developed a model for a Mediterranean ecosystem which predicts the dynamics of multiple services in response to management scenarios, mediated by vegetation changes. Six representative ESs representing different groups were selected, based on available scientific information, for a detailed study: (1) density of geophytes, (2) potential contribution to honey production, (3) energy density of fleshy fruits foraged by birds, (4) forage for goats, (5) forage for cattle, and (6) carbon retention in woody plants. Mean contributions to each service by different vegetation cover types were estimated, and the overall service provided by the site was calculated as a weighted mean of these contributions. Services were measured in their appropriate units and subsequently standardized to a percentage of the maximum value observed in the study area. We attempted to combine all studied ESs, despite their different nature, into one “ESs basket”. This paper presents the dynamics of simulated vegetation composition and values of services in response to management scenarios involving grazing, fire and their combinations. Our approach can help land managers to evaluate alternative management scenarios by presenting the “services basket” obtained from the entire managed area.


Ecological benefits Ecosystem-based management Ecosystem services evaluation Life-supporting systems Mediterranean ecosystems Multiple use Simulation Vegetation 



We are grateful to Jaime Kigel for his advice and support and to the Ramat Hanadiv Park team for their help in the field. We gratefully acknowledge the financial support of the Nekudat Hen Fund (2003–2004), of the Israel Science Foundation (grant 625/05), and of the René Karschon Foundation. Many thanks are due also to three anonymous reviewers, who have helped us to improve the paper. This work is part of the Ph.D. research project of the first author.


  1. Arabatzis G, Kyriazopoulos A (2010) Contribution of Rangelands in Quality of Life. The Case of the Viotia Prefecture, Greece. J Environ Prot Ecol 11(2):733–745Google Scholar
  2. Ball IR, Possingham HP, Watts M (2009) Marxan and relatives: software for spatial conservation prioritisation. Chapter 14. In: Moilanen A, Wilson KA, Possingham HP (eds) Spatial conservation prioritisation: quantitative methods and computational tools. Oxford University Press, Oxford, UK, pp 185–195Google Scholar
  3. Bar Massada A (2008) Mapping and modeling the dynamic of Mediterranean vegetation under various management activities. Technion—Israel Institute of Technology, HaifaGoogle Scholar
  4. Bar Massada A, Koniak G, Noy Meir I, Carmel Y (2007) Modeling the dynamics of Mediterranean landscapes under various disturbance regimes. In: Proceedings of the 7th International Association of Landscape Ecology World Congress, Wageningen, The Netherlands. 2:1116Google Scholar
  5. Bar Massada A, Carmel Y, Koniak G, Noy-Meir I (2009) The effects of disturbance based management on the spatio-temporal dynamics of Mediterranean vegetation: a spatially hierarchical modeling approach. Ecol Mod 220(19):2525–2535CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  6. Barbero M, Bonin G, Loisel R, Quezel P (1990) Changes and disturbances of forest ecosystems caused by human activities in the western part of the Mediterranean basin. Vegetatio 87(2):151–173CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  7. Bengston DN (1994) Changing forest values and ecosystem management. Soc Nat Resour 7(6):515–533CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  8. Brandolini SMD (2009) Recreational demand functions for different categories of beach visitor. Tour Econ 15(2):339–365CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  9. Carmel Y, Kadmon R, Nirel R (2001) Spatiotemporal predictive models of Mediterranean vegetation dynamics. Ecol Appl 11(1):268–280CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  10. Carson RT, Flores NE, Meade NF (2001) Contingent valuation: controversies and evidence. Environ Resour Econ 19(2):173–210CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  11. Chee YE (2004) An ecological perspective on the valuation of ecosystem services. Biol Conserv 120(4):549–565CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  12. Costanza R, d’Arge R, deGroot R, Farber S, Grasso M, Hannon B, Limburg K, Naeem S, ONeill RV, Paruelo J, Raskin RG, Sutton P, vandenBelt M (1997) The value of the world’s ecosystem services and natural capital. Nature 387(6630):253–260CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  13. Croitoru L, Merlo M (eds) (2005) Mediterranean forest value. Valuing mediterranean forests toward total economic value. CABI, Cambridge, pp 37–68Google Scholar
  14. Daily GC, Soderqvist T, Aniyar S, Arrow K, Dasgupta P, Ehrlich PR, Folke C, Jansson A, Jansson BO, Kautsky N, Levin S, Lubchenco J, Maler KG, Simpson D, Starrett D, Tilman D, Walker B (2000) Ecology—the value of nature and the nature of value. Science 289(5478):395–396CrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar
  15. de Groot R (2006) Function-analysis and valuation as a tool to assess land use conflicts in planning for sustainable, multi-functional landscapes. Landsc Urban Plann 75(3–4):175–186Google Scholar
  16. de Groot RS, Wilson MA, Boumans RMJ (2002) A typology for the classification, description and valuation of ecosystem function, goods and services. Ecol Econ 41(3):393–408CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  17. Diamond PA, Hausman JA (1994) Contingent valuation—is some number better than no number. J Econ Persp 8(4):45–64Google Scholar
  18. Elenberg HH (1988) Vegetation ecology of central Europe. Cambridge University Press, CambridgeGoogle Scholar
  19. Farber SC, Costanza R, Wilson MA (2002) Economic and ecological concepts for valuing ecosystem services. Ecol Econ 41(3):375–392CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  20. Fleischer A, Tsur Y (2003) Measuring the recreational value of open space. J Agric Econ 54(2):269–283CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  21. Gabay O (2009) Woody plants as landscape modulators in Mediterranean woodland. PhD thesis, Ben-Gurion University of the Negev, Sede-Boker Campus, IsraelGoogle Scholar
  22. Goio I, Gios G, Pollini C (2008) The development of forest accounting in the province of Trento (Italy). J For Econ 14(3):177–196Google Scholar
  23. Greenberg CH, Levey DJ, Loftis DL (2007) Fruit production in mature and recently regenerated forests of the Appalachians. J Wildl Manag 71(2):321–335CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  24. Gret-Regamey A, Walz A, Bebi P (2008) Valuing ecosystem services for sustainable landscape planning in Alpine regions. Mt Res Develop 28(2):156–165CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  25. Hadar L, Noy-Meir I, Perevolotsky A (1999) The effect of shrub clearing and grazing on the composition of a Mediterranean plant community: functional groups versus species. J Veg Sci 10(5):673–682CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  26. Hajkowicz S, Perraud JM, Dawes W, DeRose R (2005) The strategic landscape investment model: a tool for mapping optimal environmental expenditure. Environ Modell Softw 20(10):1251–1262CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  27. Henkin Z, Seligman NG, Noy-Meir I, Kafkafi U (1999) Secondary succession after fire in a Mediterranean dwarf-shrub community. J Veg Sci 10(4):503–514CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  28. Henkin Z, Hadar L, Noy-Meir I (2007) Human-scale structural heterogeneity induced by grazing in a Mediterranean woodland landscape. Landsc Ecol 22(4):577–587CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  29. Herrera CM (1998) Long-term dynamics of Mediterranean frugivorous birds and fleshy fruits: a 12-year study. Ecol Monogr 68(4):511–538Google Scholar
  30. Howarth RB, Farber S (2002) Accounting for the value of ecosystem services. Ecol Econ 41(3):421–429CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  31. Howell EA (1981) Landscape design, planning, and management—an approach to the analysis of vegetation. Environ Manag 5(3):207–212CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  32. Hu HB, Liu WJ, Cao M (2008) Impact of land use and land cover changes on ecosystem services in Menglun, Xishuangbanna, Southwest China. Environ Monit Assess 146(1–3):147–156CrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar
  33. Izhaki I (1992) A comparative-analysis of the nutritional quality of mixed and exclusive fruit diets for yellow-vented bulbuls. Condor 94(4):912–923CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  34. Izhaki I (1998) Essential amino acid composition of fleshy fruits versus maintenance requirements of passerine birds. J Chem Ecol 24(8):1333–1345CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  35. Izhaki I (2002) The role of fruit traits in determining fruit removal in east Mediterranean ecosystems. In: Levey DJ, Silva WR, Galetti M (eds) Dispersal and frugivory: ecology, evolution and conservation. CAB International Publishing, Wallingford, UK, pp 161–175Google Scholar
  36. Izhaki I, Walton PB, Safriel UN (1991) Seed shadows generated by Frugivorous Birds in an Eastern Mediterranean Scrub. J Ecol 79(3):575–590CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  37. Jackson LE, Pascual U, Hodgkin T (2007) Utilizing and conserving agrobiodiversity in agricultural landscapes. Agric Ecosyst Environ 121(3):196–210CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  38. Kababya D, Perevolotsky A, Bruckental I, Landau S (1998) Selection of diets by dual-purpose Mamber goats in Mediterranean woodland. J Agric Sci 131:221–228CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  39. Kienast F, Bolliger J, Potschin M, de Groot RS, Verburg PH, Heller I, Wascher D, Haines-Young R (2009) Assessing landscape functions with broad-scale environmental data: insights gained from a prototype development for Europe. Environ Manage 44(6):1099–1120CrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar
  40. Kochli DA, Brang P (2005) Simulating effects of forest management on selected public forest goods and services: a case study. For Ecol Manag 209(1–2):57–68CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  41. Koniak G, Noy-Meir I (2005) An approach to modelling vegetation dynamics and multiple benefits, in response to land management. In: Tonella G (ed) Modelling, simulation and optimization. Proceedings of the 5th IASTED international conference, Oranjestad, Aruba, pp 471–478Google Scholar
  42. Koniak G, Noy-Meir I (2009) A hierarchical, multi-scale, management-responsive model of Mediterranean vegetation dynamics. Ecol Mod 220(8):1148–1158CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  43. Koniak G, Noy-Meir I, Perevolotsky A (2009) Estimating multiple benefits from vegetation in Mediterranean ecosystems. Biodivers Conserv 18(13):3483–3501CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  44. Kremen C (2005) Managing ecosystem services: what do we need to know about their ecology? Ecol Lett 8(5):468–479CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  45. Kuusipalo J, Kangas J (1994) Managing biodiversity in a forestry environment. Conserv Biol 8(2):450–460CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  46. Lele S (1994) Sustainable use of biomass resources: a note on definitions, creteria, and practical aplications. Energy Sustain Develop 1(4):42–46CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  47. Leopold A (1949) A Sand County ALMANAC. Oxford University Press, Oxford, pp 237–295Google Scholar
  48. Merlo M, Briales ER (2000) Public goods and externalities linked to Mediterranean forests: economic nature and policy. Land Use Policy 17(3):197–208CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  49. Millennium Ecosystem Assessment (MEA) (2005) Ecosystems and human well-being: biodiversity synthesis. World Resources Institute, Washington, DCGoogle Scholar
  50. Montgomery CA, Pollak RA, Freemark K, White D (1999) Pricing biodiversity. J Environ Econ Manag 38(1):1–19CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  51. Munda G, Nijkamp P, Rietveld P (1994) Qualitative multicriteria evaluation for environmental-management. Ecol Econ 10(2):97–112CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  52. Nature capital project—The Woods Institute for the Environment at Stanford University, The Nature Conservancy, and World Wildlife Fund (2007)
  53. Naveh Z (1978) Model of multipurpose ecosystem management for degraded Mediterranean uplands. Environ Manag 2(1):31–37CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  54. Naveh Z, Kutiel P (1990) Changes in vegetation in the Mediterranean basin in response to human habitation. In: Woodwell G (ed) The impoverishment of the biosphere. Cambridge University Press, New York, pp 259–300Google Scholar
  55. Nielsen AB, Olsen SB, Lundhede T (2007) An economic valuation of the recreational benefits associated with nature-based forest management practices. Landsc Urban Plann 80(1–2):63–71CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  56. O’Farrell PJ, Donaldson JS, Hoffman MT (2007) The influence of ecosystem goods and services on livestock management practices on the Bokkeveld plateau, South Africa. Agric Ecosyst Environ 122(3):312–324CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  57. O’Neill J (1997) Managing without prices: the monetary valuation of biodiversity. Ambio 26(8):546–550Google Scholar
  58. Pausas JG (1999) Mediterranean vegetation dynamics: modelling problems and functional types. Plant Ecol 140(1):27–39CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  59. Perevolotsky A, Seligman NG (1998) Role of grazing in Mediterranean rangeland ecosystems—inversion of a paradigm. Bioscience 48(12):1007–1017CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  60. Perevolotsky A, Brosh A, Ehrlich O, Gutman M, Henkin Z, Holzer Z (1993) Nutritional-value of common oak (Quercus calliprinos) browse as fodder for goats—experimental results in ecological perspective. Small Rum Res 11(2):95–106CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  61. Perevolotsky A, Ne’eman G, Yonatan R, Henkin Z (2001) Resilience of prickly burnet to management in east Mediterranean rangelands. J Range Manag 54(5):561–566CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  62. Perevolotsky A, Ettinger E, Schwartz-Tzachor R, Yonatan R (2003) Management of fuel breaks in the Israeli Mediterranean ecosystem: the case of Ramat-Hanadiv Park. J Med Ecol 3:13–22Google Scholar
  63. Petanidou T, Smets E (1995) The potential of marginal lands for bees and apiculture—nectar secretion in Mediterranean shrublands. Apidologie 26(1):39–52CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  64. Possingham HP, Andelman SJ, Noon BR, Trombulak S, Pulliam HR (2001) Making smart conservation decisions. In: Soule ME, Orians GH (eds) Conservation biology: research priorities for the next decade. Island Press, Washington, Covelo, London, pp 225–244Google Scholar
  65. Reyers B, O’Farrell PJ, Cowling RM, Egoh BN, Le Maitre DC, Vlok JHJ (2009) Ecosystem services, land-cover change, and stakeholders: finding a sustainable foothold for a semiarid biodiversity hotspot. Ecol Soc 14(1):38Google Scholar
  66. Rouquette JR, Posthumus H, Gowing DJG, Tucker G, Dawson QL, Hess TM, Morris J (2009) Valuing nature-conservation interests on agricultural floodplains. J Appl Ecol 46(2):289–296CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  67. Sal AG, Garcia AG (2007) A comprehensive assessment of multifunctional agricultural land-use systems in Spain using a multi-dimensional evaluative model. Agric Ecosyst Environ 120(1):82–91CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  68. Slee B, Evans R, Roberts D (2004) Forestry in the rural economy: a new approach to assessing the impact of forestry on rural development. Forestry 77(5):441–453CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  69. Spash CL (2000) Multiple value expression in contingent valuation: economics and ethics. Environ Sci Technol 34(8):1433–1438CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  70. Spash CL (2007) Research on ecosystem services valuation. Biodiversity and ecosystem services: the MA concept from a European perspective. E-Conference, Session 3Google Scholar
  71. Standiford RB, Howitt RE (1993) Multiple use management of California hardwood rangelands. J Range Manag 46(2):176–182CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  72. Sternberg M, Shoshany M (2001a) Aboveground biomass allocation and water content relationships in Mediterranean trees and shrubs in two climatological regions in Israel. Plant Ecol 157(2):171–179CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  73. Sternberg M, Shoshany M (2001b) Influence of slope aspect on Mediterranean woody formations: comparison of a semiarid and an arid site in Israel. Ecol Res 16(2):335–345CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  74. Stirn LZ (1990) Adaptive dynamic-model for optimal forest management. For Ecol Manag 31(3):167–188CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  75. Stirn LZ (2006) Integrating the fuzzy analytic hierarchy process with dynamic programming approach for determining the optimal forest management decisions. Ecol Mod 194(1–3):296–305Google Scholar
  76. Strijker D, Sijtsma FJ, Wiersma D (2000) Evaluation of nature conservation—an application to the Dutch Ecological Network. Environ Resour Econ 16(4):363–378CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  77. Tallis H, Polasky S (2009) Mapping and valuing ecosystem services as an approach for conservation and natural-resource management. Ann Ny Acad Sci 1162:265–283CrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar
  78. Tecle A, Szidarovszky F, Duckstein L (1995) Conflict analysis in multi-resource forest management with multiple decision-makers. Nat Resour 31(3):8–17Google Scholar
  79. Vatn A, Bromley DW (1994) Choices without prices without apologies. J Environ Econ Manag 26(2):129–148CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  80. Verburg PH, van de Steeg J, Veldkamp A, Willemen L (2009) From land cover change to land function dynamics: a major challenge to improve land characterization. J Environ Manag 90(3):1327–1335CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  81. Westoby M, Walker B, Noy-Meir I (1989) Opportunistic management for rangelands not at equilibrium. J Range Manag 42(4):266–274CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  82. Yousefpour R, Hanewinkel M (2009) Modelling of forest conversion planning with an adaptive simulation-optimization approach and simultaneous consideration of the values of timber, carbon and biodiversity. Ecol Econ 68(6):1711–1722CrossRefGoogle Scholar

Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media B.V. 2010

Authors and Affiliations

  • Gili Koniak
    • 1
    Email author
  • Imanuel Noy-Meir
    • 1
  • Avi Perevolotsky
    • 2
  1. 1.Institute of Plant SciencesThe Robert H. Smith Faculty of Agriculture, Food, and Environment, The Hebrew University of JerusalemRehovotIsrael
  2. 2.Department of Natural ResourcesAgricultural Research Organization, the Volcani CenterBet DaganIsrael

Personalised recommendations