Evaluating ecosystem service trade-offs along a land-use intensification gradient in central Veracruz, Mexico

September 2020

by Z. Carter Berry et al.


By Z.Carter Berry, Kelly W.Jones, Leon Rodrigo Gomez Aguilar, Russell G.Congalton, Friso Holwerda, Randall Kolka, Nathaniel Looker, Sergio Miguel Lopez  Ramirez, Robert Manson, Alex Mayer, Lyssette Muñoz-Villers, Perla Ortiz Colin, Humberto Romero-Uribe, Leonardo Saenz, Juan Jose Von Thaden, Mariana Quetzall, Vizcaíno Bravo, Guadalupe Williams-Linera, Heidi Asbjornsen

It is generally assumed that forests improve ecosystem service (ES) provisioning within landscapes. These assumptions drive policies (e.g. Payment for Ecosystem Services) that affect land-use without knowing if the desired services are achieved. Here we use a data-intensive approach to explore the synergies and tradeoffs between three regulating (hydrologic regulation, water quality, carbon storage) and one supporting ES (biodiversity). Using field-based measurements for ten ES indicators collected within eight land use/land cover (LULC) types we assess: (1) the relationship between ES indicators and LULC type and (2) the synergies and tradeoffs across ES indicators.

For objective one, we found that primary forests promote more favorable hydrological services, including having greater base flow, flow regulation, and soil conductivity. For objective two, we observed synergies across many ES where management of one would improve provisioning for several other ES, specifically between low flow, carbon storage, and biodiversity. However, many ES parameters (e.g. water quality) had no relationship with other ES parameters. Our results underscore the value of site-specific research in addressing assumptions about the relationship between LULC and ES provisioning. More site-specific data is needed for more informed design of management strategies that can maximize ES benefits.


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