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Distant regions underpin interregional flows of cultural ecosystem services provided by birds and mammals

  • Matthias SchröterEmail author
  • Roland Kraemer
  • Roy P. Remme
  • Alexander P. E. van Oudenhoven
Research Article


Ecosystem service assessments rarely consider flows between distant regions. Hence, telecoupling effects such as conservation burdens in distant ecosystems are ignored. We identified service-providing species for two cultural ecosystem services (existence and bequest, and birdwatching) and two receiving, i.e. benefitting, regions (Germany, the Netherlands). We delineated and analysed sending, i.e. service-providing, regions on a global scale. The proportion of service-providing species with distant habitats was higher for birdwatching (Germany: 58.6%, Netherlands: 59.4%), than for existence and bequest (Germany: 49.3%, Netherlands: 57.1%). Hotspots of sending regions were predominantly situated in tropical and subtropical grasslands, savannas and shrublands and were significantly more threatened and poorer than the global mean. Hotspot protection levels for flows to Germany were higher than the global mean, and lower for the Dutch hotspots. Our findings increase understanding on how distant regions underpin ecosystem services and necessitate interregional assessment as well as conservation efforts.


Biodiversity conservation Ecosystem service flows Service-providing species Sustainability Telecoupling 



We thank two anonymous reviewers for their constructive comments which have helped to improve an earlier version of the manuscript. We thank Morgan Kain for critical feedback and for checking the language. The work by RK is supported by the research project Environmental-Health Interactions in Cities (GreenEquityHEALTH) - Challenges for Human Well-Being under Global Changes (2017–2022), funded by the German Federal Ministry of Education and Research (BMBF; no. 01LN1705A). RPR is supported by the Marianne and Marcus Wallenberg Foundation. The work by AvO was funded by the STW research programme ‘Nature-driven nourishment of coastal systems (NatureCoast)’ (Grant Number 12691), which is (partly) financed by the Netherlands Organisation for Scientific Research (NWO).

Supplementary material

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Copyright information

© Royal Swedish Academy of Sciences 2019

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Department of Ecosystem ServicesUFZ – Helmholtz Centre for Environmental ResearchLeipzigGermany
  2. 2.German Centre for Integrative Biodiversity Research (iDiv) Halle-Jena-LeipzigLeipzigGermany
  3. 3.Institute of GeographyHumboldt-Universität zu BerlinBerlinGermany
  4. 4.Natural Capital ProjectStanford UniversityStanfordUSA
  5. 5.National Institute for Public Health and the Environment (RIVM)BilthovenThe Netherlands
  6. 6.Institute of Environmental Sciences CMLLeiden UniversityLeidenThe Netherlands

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