The seasonal and scale-dependent associations between vegetation quality and hiking activities as a recreation service
Understanding how the ecological properties of a landscape yield ecosystem services is essential for sustainable management and sound decision-making. For cultural ecosystem services, however, it is not always clear whether the ecological attributes of a landscape are responsible for heterogeneity in service provisioning. In addition, seasonal and scale-dependent changes in effects of landscape attributes have rarely been examined. To answer these questions, we analyzed associations between various landscape attributes and a proxy of a cultural ecosystem service, that is, monthly number of hiking records for 1953 mountains in Japan crowdsourced from a social networking service for hikers. Landscape attributes were summarized at five spatial scales from a 5- to a 100-km radius from a summit. The effect of primary vegetation on frequency of hiking activity was positive at a spatial scale of 5 km in many months and was especially important in early summer and autumn, whereas the effects of total vegetation cover were generally not important. The positive effect of mountain height was dominant in summer, whereas the positive effects of population density at 50 and 100 km were dominant in winter. The height of a summit relative to the highest point in the surrounding area was important at the intermediate (10 and 20 km) scales. As a whole, seasonal and scale-dependent changes in the relationships between most of the landscape attributes and number of hiking records were apparent. Such changes should be carefully considered in future studies on cultural ecosystem services.
KeywordsBiodiversity Cultural ecosystem service Ecosystem service Recreation service Social media
Two anonymous referees provided helpful comments on a previous version of this manuscript. This research was supported by the Environment Research and Technology Development Fund (Predicting and Assessing Natural Capital and Ecosystem Services [PANCES], S-15-2(1) for MA, RS, TN and S-15-2(2) for MO) of the Ministry of the Environment, Japan.
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