Landscape Ecology

, Volume 29, Issue 6, pp 1069–1082 | Cite as

From supply to social demand: a landscape-scale analysis of the water regulation service

  • Cristina Quintas-Soriano
  • Antonio J. CastroEmail author
  • Marina García-Llorente
  • Javier Cabello
  • Hermelindo Castro
Research article


Worldwide water managers and policy makers are faced by the increasing demands for limited and scarce water resources, particularly in semi-arid ecosystems. This study assesses water regulation service in semi-arid ecosystems of the southeastern Iberian Peninsula. Comparisons between the supply–demand sides were analyzed across different landscape units. We mapped the biophysical supply as the potential groundwater recharged by aquifers and water supplies from reservoirs. The social demand was focused on an analysis of water consumed or used for irrigation and the stakeholder’s perceptions regarding water regulation importance and vulnerability. Results show that some landscape units are able to maintain and conserve water regulation service when the volume of recharge water by aquifers and the water supply from reservoirs is greater than its consumption (e.g. rural landscape units). However, we also found potential social conflicts in landscape units where water consumption and use is much greater than the water recharge and supply. This particularly occurs in the non-protected littoral areas with the highest water consumption and where water is perceived as a non-important and vulnerable natural resource. Overall, our results emphasized the importance of assessing ecosystem services from both supply to demand sides, for identifying social conflicts and potential trade-offs, and to provide practical information about how to integrate the ecosystem service research into landscape management and planning.


Groundwater recharge Over-exploitation Social perception Trade-offs Water consumption Water supply 



We thank all of the people that kindly responded to the questionnaire. We special thank Salvador España for helping with the mathematical model. Funding for the development of this research was provided by the Andalusian Center for the assessment of Global Change (CAESCG) (GLOCHARID project), the ERDF (FEDER), Programa de Cooperación Transfroteriza España-Fronteras Exteriores (POXTEFEX-Transhabitat), Andalusian Regional Government (Junta de Andalucía SEGALERT Project, P09-RNM-5048), and Ministry of Science and Innovation (Project CGL2010-22314). The Oklahoma Biological Survey at the University of Oklahoma (US) has provided support for A.J.C. MGL was founded by a postdoctoral grant from the Alliance 4 Universities.

Supplementary material

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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media Dordrecht 2014

Authors and Affiliations

  • Cristina Quintas-Soriano
    • 1
    • 4
  • Antonio J. Castro
    • 1
    • 2
    Email author
  • Marina García-Llorente
    • 3
    • 4
  • Javier Cabello
    • 1
  • Hermelindo Castro
    • 1
  1. 1.Biology and Geology Department, Andalusian Centre for Evaluation and Monitoring Global ChangeUniversity of AlmeriaAlmeríaSpain
  2. 2.Oklahoma Biological SurveyUniversity of OklahomaNormanUSA
  3. 3.Sociology and the Environment Research Area, Social Analysis DepartmentUniversidad Carlos III de MadridGetafeSpain
  4. 4.Social-Ecological Systems Laboratory, Department of EcologyUniversidad Autónoma de MadridMadridSpain

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