- bDepartment of Forest and Conservation Sciences, University of British Columbia, Vancouver, BC, Canada V6T 1Z4;
- cDepartment of Natural Resource Sciences and McGill School of Environment, McGill University, Ste. Anne de Bellevue, QC, Canada H9X 3V9
- Edited by Monica G. Turner, University of Wisconsin-Madison, Madison, WI, and approved September 16, 2015 (received for review February 6, 2015)
Most approaches to quantifying and mapping ecosystem services (ES) focus on a single point in time. This static approach cannot provide insight into whether and how the provision of ES changes through time. We examined spatiotemporal ES dynamics by reconstructing the regional provision of nine ES over 35 y. Our approach demonstrated that individual services, ES bundles, and interactions among ES changed across both time and space. We also identified trajectories of ES bundle change and explained how these changes were driven by policy, biophysical, and socioeconomic characteristics. Our study demonstrates the limitations of assuming stationarity in ES and their relationships, and emphasizes the importance of taking into account both time and space in the assessment of multiple ES.
Managing multiple ecosystem services (ES), including addressing trade-offs between services and preventing ecological surprises, is among the most pressing areas for sustainability research. These challenges require ES research to go beyond the currently common approach of snapshot studies limited to one or two services at a single point in time. We used a spatiotemporal approach to examine changes in nine ES and their relationships from 1971 to 2006 across 131 municipalities in a mixed-use landscape in Quebec, Canada. We show how an approach that incorporates time and space can improve our understanding of ES dynamics. We found an increase in the provision of most services through time; however, provision of ES was not uniformly enhanced at all locations. Instead, each municipality specialized in providing a bundle (set of positively correlated ES) dominated by just a few services. The trajectory of bundle formation was related to changes in agricultural policy and global trends; local biophysical and socioeconomic characteristics explained the bundles’ increasing spatial clustering. Relationships between services varied through time, with some provisioning and cultural services shifting from a trade-off or no relationship in 1971 to an apparent synergistic relationship by 2006. By implementing a spatiotemporal perspective on multiple services, we provide clear evidence of the dynamic nature of ES interactions and contribute to identifying processes and drivers behind these changing relationships. Our study raises questions about using snapshots of ES provision at a single point in time to build our understanding of ES relationships in complex and dynamic social-ecological systems.
- Author contributions: D.R., J.M.R., and E.M.B. designed research; D.R. performed research; D.R. analyzed data; and D.R., J.M.R., and E.M.B. wrote the paper.
- The authors declare no conflict of interest.
- This article is a PNAS Direct Submission.
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