Landscape dynamics of floral resources affect the supply of a biodiversity-dependent cultural ecosystem service
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Cultural ecosystem services, many of which depend on biodiversity, are recognized as important but seldom quantified biophysically across landscapes. Furthermore, many ecosystem service models are static, and the supply of cultural ecosystem services may be misrepresented if seasonal shifts in biotic communities are ignored.
We modeled landscape dynamics of wildflower blooms in a temperate montane landscape to determine (1) how floral resources (wildflower species richness, abundance, timing, and presence of charismatic species) changed over the growing season, (2) how projected wildflower viewing hotspots varied over space and time, and (3) how spatial shifts in floral resources affected potential public access to wildflower viewing.
Data were collected at 63 sites across a rural-to-urban gradient in the Southern Appalachian Mountains (USA). Generalized linear models were used to identify factors affecting floral resources at two temporal scales. Floral resources were projected across the landscape and hotspots of wildflower viewing were quantified using overlay analysis.
Floral resources were affected by topoedaphic conditions, climate, and surrounding building density and changed seasonally. Seasonal models revealed locational shifts in ecosystem service hotspots, which changed the proportion of hotspots accessible to the public and identified wildflower-viewing opportunities unnoticed by static models.
Relationships between landscape gradients, biodiversity, and ecosystem service supply varied seasonally, and our models identified cultural ecosystem service hotspots otherwise obscured by simple proxies. Landscape models of biodiversity-based cultural ecosystem services should include seasonal dynamics of biotic communities to avoid under- or over-emphasizing the importance of particular locations in ecosystem service assessments.