Location, Configuration, Distribution: the Role of Landscape Pattern and Diversity in Ecosystem Services

Lead Research Organisation: NERC Centre for Ecology and Hydrology
Department Name: Emmett

Abstract

Biodiversity is defined in the Convention of Biological Diversity (CBD) as "diversity within species, between species and of ecosystems". Since the role of landscape is understudied in comparison with biodiversity measures based on species diversity (de Groot et al. 2010), in this study we explicitly examine the contribution of diversity of habitats and ecosystems and their location within the landscape to ecosystem service delivery, rather than diversity at the genetic, species or trait level. In particular, this project explores two issues relating to pattern in the landscape.

1. Diversity of habitats and ecosystem service provision.
Much focus on ecosystem service upscaling relies on relationships between quantified services and specific land use classes or habitat types (e.g. Haines-Young & Potschin 2007), using habitats as a proxy for the unit of service delivery (Maskell et al. 2010). However, most UK landscapes comprise mosaics at varying scales of a range of habitat types, particularly for agricultural landscapes which cover 75% of the UK (NEA, 2011). The diversity of habitats, also termed landscape complexity, itself can alter ecosystem services. Landscape complexity can compensate for reduced species richness in delivery of services in agricultural landscapes (Tscharntke et al. 2005), while the options for sustainable management to have an effect are greatest in landscapes of intermediate complexity. In this project we will evaluate how landscape complexity, as measured by diversity of habitats within it governs ecosystem service provision.

2. Spatial pattern in the landscape.
Spatial arrangement affects the flow through the landscape of potential service supply to the users or beneficiaries (Villa et al. 2011). It also alters flows of material or processes in the landscape related to ecosystem functions. For example, the magnitude and timing of water movement have a spatial component vertically, via infiltration rates, and horizontal flows overland, in streams and in groundwater, all of which govern flood regulation (Vigerstol & Aukema 2011). Configuration of landscape features has three elements, the overall area of each feature, the physical distribution of features and their location within the landscape. In this project we will explore how the configuration of landscape components contributes to delivery of multiple ecosystem services.

The overall aim of this project is to test the role of diversity of habitats and ecosystems, and their spatial configuration, at the landscape scale in the delivery of multiple ecosystem services.
We ask the following questions, each of which forms a project objective, delivered by a task:
1) How does diversity of ecosystems or habitats at the landscape scale affect delivery of ecosystem services?
2) Does the spatial configuration, including size, pattern and location of habitats in the landscape affect delivery of ecosystem services?

We will test three of new generation ecosystem service models which operate at the landscape scale and support temporal and spatial process modelling routines: ARIES (Bagstad et al. 2011), INVEST (Nelson et al. 2008) and LUCI (Jackson et al. In press). The three models treat organisation of the landscape in fundamentally different ways, and operate at different scales. Past comparisons of two of the models (InVEST and ARIES) have focused on water services (Vigerstol & Aukema 2011) whereas here we include a new model (LUCI), and use them as tools to test hypotheses about how landscape structure influences the delivery of multiple ecosystem services, with an emphasis on exploring trade-offs and interaction between services.

We will exploit the data-rich Conwy catchment in N Wales established as one of the three Mancronutrient Cycles catchments where intensive biophysical data is being collected crossing domains and ecosystem processes which underpin selected biodiversity and regulating ecosystem services.

Planned Impact

The Science Community in the UK and internationally will benefit from linkage between the biogeochemical, hydrological and biological measurements underway in the Conwy catchment through the £3.2M Turf-2-Surf NERC Macronutrient Cycles (MC) Programme. This will be achieved by model applications being rigorously tested and explored using a broad range of biophysical data, and also will demonstrate the need for integrated, inter-disciplinary approaches to ecosystem services research. Involvement of the PIs in both the MC and BESS communities would provide a bridge between these two highly visible and active communities within the natural environment community both within the UK and internationally. The PIs are involved in various projects crossing UK, S America and N America which will ensure the findings are well communicated. The benefit is illustrated by the supporting letter from Prof Paul Whitehead, Director of NERC's Macronutrient Cycles Programme.

UK Government Departments are responsible for developing policy informed by an ecosystem approach as an underpinning framework as proposed in the following national documents: the Natural Environment White Paper (England); the Land Use Strategy (Scotland) and 'A Living Wales' (Wales). Within Wales, this has led to an over-arching strategy for an integrated land and water management approach to protect Natural Capital and enhance delivery of ecosystem services through the new Glastir land management payment scheme. A unique, integrated approach to monitoring and evaluation of the Glastir scheme (£4.85M for strart-up over 2 years led by B Emmett) has just been commissioned by Welsh Government. This programme uniquely links monitoring and modelling across cultural, regulating, provisioning and supporting services at a national scale, combining monitoring with modelling with fast feedback to policy. The LUCI model is currently the model of choice in this project to integrate across the different services and provide fdback on where future payments should be made to farmers based on model forecasts and monitoring data. Comparison with the other two models will provide valuable information and guidance for planning and selection of models in future projects with government departments across all three nations. Support for this benefit is provided by the letter from Welsh Government.

Land managers and government agencies are responsible for land and water management programmes to meet a range of national and international requirements and commitments. New decision support tools to operationalise spatial planning within an ecosystem services framework is an imperative. The proposed project will deliver an exemplar case study to aid choice and development of tools by land and water managers. As Countryside Survey for Wales notes in their letter of support "Given the current focus on managing our environment as a whole and examining the state of the natural environment and the benefits it gives to society in terms of ecosystem services, we can envisage the use of ecosystem service modeling tools becoming more widespread in the near future. Information on their applicability and consistency would be useful in determining the value of the outputs from such models"

The TSB Knowledge Transfer Environmental Sustainability Network will benefit due to the better understanding of Ecosystem Services and their evaluation and incorporation into decision making tools and processes. This understanding is of primary interest to their many stakeholders. More than half of their 8,000 members are from business, with the rest split between universities, government and regulatory agencies, so they are well placed to understand and connect across these key groups. As outlined in their letter of support, members will be interested in the comparison between outcomes produced by the three different tools as they seek to determine which will be most useful in supporting decision making processes.

Publications

10 25 50
 
Description Ecosystem services modelling tools can help land managers and policy makers evaluate the impacts of alternative management options or changes in land use on the delivery of ecosystem services. As the variety and complexity of these tools increases, there is a need for comparative studies across a range of settings, allowing users to make an informed choice. Using examples of provisioning and regulating services (water supply, carbon storage and nutrient retention), we compare three spatially explicit tools - LUCI (Land Utilisation and Capability Indicator), ARIES (Artificial Intelligence for Ecosystem Services) and InVEST (Integrated Valuation of Ecosystem Services and Tradeoffs). Models were parameterised for the UK and applied to a temperate catchment with widely varying land use in North Wales. Although each tool provides quantitative mapped output, can be applied in different contexts, and can work at local or national scale, they differ in the approaches taken and underlying assumptions made. In this study, we focus on the wide range of outputs produced for each service and discuss the differences between each modelling tool. Model outputs were validated using empirical data for river flow, carbon and nutrient levels within the catchment. The sensitivity of the models to land-use change was tested using four scenarios of varying severity, evaluating the conversion of grassland habitat to woodland (0 - 30% of the landscape). We show that, while the modelling tools provide broadly comparable quantitative outputs, each has its own unique features and strengths, therefore the choice of tool depends on the study question.
Exploitation Route The findings help inform model selection by a wide range of users from national to local scale. Users of this type of model include catchment managers, service industries, businesses, NGOs, government departments and public agencies. The papers indicate how the position and configuration of different land management interventions fundamentally impact on the direct and indirect benefits on a range of impacts such as water quality and connectivity of habitat.
Sectors Agriculture, Food and Drink,Environment

 
Description The project contributed to two NERC BESS public information leaflets: Feeding a growing planet - meeting the challenge of biodiversity and food security. Mapping and modelling Ecosystem Stocks and Services
First Year Of Impact 2016
Sector Agriculture, Food and Drink,Environment
 
Title Simulated landscape metrics of configuration and Ecosystem Service provision across virtual landscapes, based within River Conwy 
Description These data are metrics of landscape configuration and modelled provision of Ecosystem services for a large number of virtual landscapes (c. 7500) superimposed on real topography. The landscapes are made up of patches of woodland interspersed across a grassland, and were generated with the landscapeR package in R. The topography used is from the Conwy catchment, split into 10 sections to enable comparison between topographies. Metrics were generated for each virtual landscape to quantify landscape configuration. An Ecosystem Services model (LUCI) was run to calculate a metric of "area mitigated" as a proxy for the provision of runoff mitigation Ecosystem Services. Simulated landscapes were established to answer two questions: firstly to identify the relative controls of patch area and fragmentation on service provision and secondly to identify catchment feature controls on these relationships. The work was done by Dario Masante and Amy Thomas, with input from Laurence Jones, as part of work under the NERC Biodiversity and Ecosystem Services (BESS) project NERC Grant Ref: NE/K015508/1. 
Type Of Material Database/Collection of data 
Year Produced 2019 
Provided To Others? Yes  
 
Description Workshop to test modelling of cultural services across the four BESS consortium projects 
Organisation Aberystwyth University
Country United Kingdom 
Sector Academic/University 
PI Contribution Leading the workshop, and leading subsequent testing of the modelling methodology. Leading authorship of a planned ISI paper
Collaborator Contribution Partners from the four BESS consortium projects have contributed to the methodology and developing framework. They have contributed data for testing the framework, and are contributing to the journal paper.
Impact All collaborations below are multi-disciplinary (economic, policy, ecological, social) Paper in development Presentation at Ecosystem Services Partnership conference, Antwerp, 2016 Presentation at ACES (A Community of Ecosystem Services) conference, Jacksonville, Florida, 2016
Start Year 2016
 
Description Workshop to test modelling of cultural services across the four BESS consortium projects 
Organisation Cardiff University
Country United Kingdom 
Sector Academic/University 
PI Contribution Leading the workshop, and leading subsequent testing of the modelling methodology. Leading authorship of a planned ISI paper
Collaborator Contribution Partners from the four BESS consortium projects have contributed to the methodology and developing framework. They have contributed data for testing the framework, and are contributing to the journal paper.
Impact All collaborations below are multi-disciplinary (economic, policy, ecological, social) Paper in development Presentation at Ecosystem Services Partnership conference, Antwerp, 2016 Presentation at ACES (A Community of Ecosystem Services) conference, Jacksonville, Florida, 2016
Start Year 2016
 
Description Workshop to test modelling of cultural services across the four BESS consortium projects 
Organisation Cranfield University
Country United Kingdom 
Sector Academic/University 
PI Contribution Leading the workshop, and leading subsequent testing of the modelling methodology. Leading authorship of a planned ISI paper
Collaborator Contribution Partners from the four BESS consortium projects have contributed to the methodology and developing framework. They have contributed data for testing the framework, and are contributing to the journal paper.
Impact All collaborations below are multi-disciplinary (economic, policy, ecological, social) Paper in development Presentation at Ecosystem Services Partnership conference, Antwerp, 2016 Presentation at ACES (A Community of Ecosystem Services) conference, Jacksonville, Florida, 2016
Start Year 2016
 
Description Workshop to test modelling of cultural services across the four BESS consortium projects 
Organisation Natural England
Country United Kingdom 
Sector Charity/Non Profit 
PI Contribution Leading the workshop, and leading subsequent testing of the modelling methodology. Leading authorship of a planned ISI paper
Collaborator Contribution Partners from the four BESS consortium projects have contributed to the methodology and developing framework. They have contributed data for testing the framework, and are contributing to the journal paper.
Impact All collaborations below are multi-disciplinary (economic, policy, ecological, social) Paper in development Presentation at Ecosystem Services Partnership conference, Antwerp, 2016 Presentation at ACES (A Community of Ecosystem Services) conference, Jacksonville, Florida, 2016
Start Year 2016
 
Description Workshop to test modelling of cultural services across the four BESS consortium projects 
Organisation University of Gloucestershire
Country United Kingdom 
Sector Academic/University 
PI Contribution Leading the workshop, and leading subsequent testing of the modelling methodology. Leading authorship of a planned ISI paper
Collaborator Contribution Partners from the four BESS consortium projects have contributed to the methodology and developing framework. They have contributed data for testing the framework, and are contributing to the journal paper.
Impact All collaborations below are multi-disciplinary (economic, policy, ecological, social) Paper in development Presentation at Ecosystem Services Partnership conference, Antwerp, 2016 Presentation at ACES (A Community of Ecosystem Services) conference, Jacksonville, Florida, 2016
Start Year 2016
 
Description Workshop to test modelling of cultural services across the four BESS consortium projects 
Organisation University of Sheffield
Country United Kingdom 
Sector Academic/University 
PI Contribution Leading the workshop, and leading subsequent testing of the modelling methodology. Leading authorship of a planned ISI paper
Collaborator Contribution Partners from the four BESS consortium projects have contributed to the methodology and developing framework. They have contributed data for testing the framework, and are contributing to the journal paper.
Impact All collaborations below are multi-disciplinary (economic, policy, ecological, social) Paper in development Presentation at Ecosystem Services Partnership conference, Antwerp, 2016 Presentation at ACES (A Community of Ecosystem Services) conference, Jacksonville, Florida, 2016
Start Year 2016
 
Description Workshop to test modelling of cultural services across the four BESS consortium projects 
Organisation University of St Andrews
Country United Kingdom 
Sector Academic/University 
PI Contribution Leading the workshop, and leading subsequent testing of the modelling methodology. Leading authorship of a planned ISI paper
Collaborator Contribution Partners from the four BESS consortium projects have contributed to the methodology and developing framework. They have contributed data for testing the framework, and are contributing to the journal paper.
Impact All collaborations below are multi-disciplinary (economic, policy, ecological, social) Paper in development Presentation at Ecosystem Services Partnership conference, Antwerp, 2016 Presentation at ACES (A Community of Ecosystem Services) conference, Jacksonville, Florida, 2016
Start Year 2016
 
Description Workshop to test modelling of cultural services across the four BESS consortium projects 
Organisation University of York
Country United Kingdom 
Sector Academic/University 
PI Contribution Leading the workshop, and leading subsequent testing of the modelling methodology. Leading authorship of a planned ISI paper
Collaborator Contribution Partners from the four BESS consortium projects have contributed to the methodology and developing framework. They have contributed data for testing the framework, and are contributing to the journal paper.
Impact All collaborations below are multi-disciplinary (economic, policy, ecological, social) Paper in development Presentation at Ecosystem Services Partnership conference, Antwerp, 2016 Presentation at ACES (A Community of Ecosystem Services) conference, Jacksonville, Florida, 2016
Start Year 2016
 
Title R routine for simulating artificial landscapes 
Description R package for simulating artificial landscapes 
Type Of Technology Software 
Year Produced 2016 
Open Source License? Yes  
Impact Too early to tell who is using it 
URL https://CRAN.R-project.org/package=landscapeR
 
Description Cultural services modelling, ACES (A Community of Ecosystem Services) conference, Jacksonville, Florida 
Form Of Engagement Activity A talk or presentation
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach International
Primary Audience Professional Practitioners
Results and Impact Scientific presentation given on cultural services modelling, to mixed audience of scientists, practitioners, policy makers, which sparked questions and discussion afterwards.
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2016
 
Description Cultural services modelling, Ecosystem Services Partnership conference, Antwerp. 
Form Of Engagement Activity A talk or presentation
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach International
Primary Audience Other audiences
Results and Impact Scientific presentation given on cultural services modelling, to mixed audience of scientists, practitioners, policy makers, which sparked questions and discussion afterwards.
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2016
 
Description Ecosystem services model comparison study, ACES (A Community of Ecosystem Services) conference, Jacksonville, Florida 
Form Of Engagement Activity A talk or presentation
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach International
Primary Audience Professional Practitioners
Results and Impact Scientific presentation given on ecosystem services model comparison study, to mixed audience of scientists, practitioners, policy makers, which sparked questions and discussion afterwards.
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2016
 
Description Ecosystem services model comparison study. Ecosystem Services Partnership conference, Antwerp, 2016 
Form Of Engagement Activity A talk or presentation
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach International
Primary Audience Other audiences
Results and Impact Scientific presentation given on model comparison study, to mixed audience of scientists, practitioners, policy makers, which sparked questions and discussion afterwards.
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2016
 
Description Expert panel - the international perspective, ACES (A Community of Ecosystem Services) conference, Jacksonville, Florida 
Form Of Engagement Activity A formal working group, expert panel or dialogue
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach International
Primary Audience Professional Practitioners
Results and Impact Member of expert panel, providing the European perspective. Questions and discussion afterwards.
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2016