From multifunctionality to multiple ecosystem services? A conceptual framework for multifunctionality in green infrastructure planning for urban areas.
ABSTRACT: Green infrastructure (GI) and ecosystem services (ES) are promoted as concepts that have potential to improve environmental planning in urban areas based on a more holistic understanding of the complex interrelations and dynamics of social-ecological systems. However, the scientific discourses around both concepts still lack application-oriented frameworks that consider such a holistic perspective and are suitable to mainstream GI and ES in planning practice. This literature review explores how multifunctionality as one important principle of GI planning can be operationalized by approaches developed and tested in ES research. Specifically, approaches developed in ES research can help to assess the integrity of GI networks, balance ES supply and demand, and consider trade-offs. A conceptual framework for the assessment of multifunctionality from a social-ecological perspective is proposed that can inform the design of planning processes and support stronger exchange between GI and ES research.
Project description:Stormwater green infrastructure (GI) has the potential to provide ecosystem services (ES) that are currently lacking in many urban environments. Nevertheless, while stormwater GI presents a major opportunity for cities to enhance urban ES, there is insufficient evidence to link the complex social and ecological benefits of ES to different GI types for holistic urban planning. This study used an expert opinion methodology to identify linkages between 22 ES and 14 GI types within a New York City context. An analysis of results from five interdisciplinary workshops engaging 46 academic experts reveals that expert judgement of ES benefits is highest for larger green spaces, which are not universally considered for stormwater management, and lowest for vacant land and non-vegetated GI types. Overall, cultural services were identified as those most universally provided by GI. The results of this study highlight potential significant variations in ES benefits between different GI types, and indicate the importance of considering cultural services in future GI research and planning efforts. In the current absence of robust quantitive measurements linking ES and stormwater GI, increased qualitative insight could be obtained by expanding the methodology used in this work to include non-academic experts and other urban stakeholders. We therefore offer recommendations and learnings based on our experience with the approach.
Project description:Human-induced biodiversity change impairs ecosystem functions crucial to human well-being. However, the consequences of this change for ecosystem multifunctionality are poorly understood beyond effects of plant species loss, particularly in regions with high biodiversity across trophic levels. Here we adopt a multitrophic perspective to analyze how biodiversity affects multifunctionality in biodiverse subtropical forests. We consider 22 independent measurements of nine ecosystem functions central to energy and nutrient flow across trophic levels. We find that individual functions and multifunctionality are more strongly affected by the diversity of heterotrophs promoting decomposition and nutrient cycling, and by plant functional-trait diversity and composition, than by tree species richness. Moreover, cascading effects of higher trophic-level diversity on functions originating from lower trophic-level processes highlight that multitrophic biodiversity is key to understanding drivers of multifunctionality. A broader perspective on biodiversity-multifunctionality relationships is crucial for sustainable ecosystem management in light of non-random species loss and intensified biotic disturbances under future environmental change.
Project description:Ecosystem services (ES) is a valuable concept to be used in the planning and management of social-ecological landscapes. However, the understanding of the determinant factors affecting the interaction between services in the form of synergies or trade-offs is still limited. We assessed the production of 16 ES across 62 municipalities in the Norrström drainage basin in Sweden. We combined GIS data with publically available information for quantifying and mapping the distribution of services. Additionally, we calculated the diversity of ES for each municipality and used correlations and k-means clustering analyses to assess the existence of ES bundles. We found five distinct types of bundles of ES spatially agglomerated in the landscape that could be explained by regional social and ecological gradients. Human-dominated landscapes were highly multifunctional in our study area and urban densely populated areas were hotspots of cultural services.
Project description:Land use and spatial patterns which reflect social-ecological legacies control ecosystem service (ES) supply. Yet, temporal changes in ES bundles associated with land use change are little studied. We developed original metrics to quantify synchronous historical variations in spatial patterns of land use and ES supply capacity, and demonstrated their use for two mountain grassland landscapes. Consistent with other European mountains, land use dynamics from the nineteenth century until the mid-twentieth century resulted in increased landscape heterogeneity, followed by homogenisation. In the persistently grassy landscape of Lautaret in France, landscape multifunctionality-the provision of multiple ES-coincided with greatest landscape heterogeneity and within-patch diversity in ecosystem services in the 1950-1970s. In the more complex Austrian landscape, where since the nineteenth century intensive production has concentrated in the valley and steep slopes have been abandoned, grassland landscape-level multifunctionality and spatial heterogeneity across grasslands have decreased. Increasing spatial heterogeneity across grasslands until the 1970s was paralleled at both sites by increasing fine-grained spatial variability for individual ES, but subsequent landscape simplification has promoted coarse-grained ES patterns This novel analysis of landscape-scale turnover highlighted how spatial patterns for individual ES scale to multiple grassland ES, depending on the nature of land use spatial variability. Under current socio-economic trends, sustaining or re-establishing fine-grained landscapes is often not feasible, thus future landscape planning and policies might focus on managing landscape and regional-scale multifunctionality. Also, the trends towards decreasing cultural ES and increasing regulating ES suggest a contradiction with current social demand and regional policies.
Project description:Understanding the relationship between biodiversity and ecosystem functioning has been a core ecological research topic over the last decades. Although a key hypothesis is that the diversity of functional traits determines ecosystem functioning, we do not know how much trait diversity is needed to maintain multiple ecosystem functions simultaneously (multifunctionality). Here, we uncovered a scaling relationship between the abundance distribution of two key plant functional traits (specific leaf area, maximum plant height) and multifunctionality in 124 dryland plant communities spread over all continents except Antarctica. For each trait, we found a strong empirical relationship between the skewness and the kurtosis of the trait distributions that cannot be explained by chance. This relationship predicted a strikingly high trait diversity within dryland plant communities, which was associated with a local maximization of multifunctionality. Skewness and kurtosis had a much stronger impact on multifunctionality than other important multifunctionality drivers such as species richness and aridity. The scaling relationship identified here quantifies how much trait diversity is required to maximize multifunctionality locally. Trait distributions can be used to predict the functional consequences of biodiversity loss in terrestrial ecosystems.
Project description:Society values landscapes that reliably provide many ecosystem functions. As the study of ecosystem functioning expands to include more locations, time spans, and functions, the functional importance of individual species is becoming more apparent. However, the functional importance of individual species does not necessarily translate to the functional importance of biodiversity measured in whole communities of interacting species. Furthermore, ecological diversity at scales larger than neighborhood species richness could also influence the provision of multiple functions over extended time scales. We created experimental landscapes based on whole communities from the world's longest running biodiversity-functioning field experiment to investigate how local species richness (? diversity), distinctness among communities (? diversity), and larger scale species richness (? diversity) affected eight ecosystem functions over 10 y. Using both threshold-based and unique multifunctionality metrics, we found that ? diversity had strong positive effects on most individual functions and multifunctionality, and that positive effects of ? and ? diversity emerged only when multiple functions were considered simultaneously. Higher ? diversity also reduced the variability in multifunctionality. Thus, in addition to conserving important species, maintaining ecosystem multifunctionality will require diverse landscape mosaics of diverse communities.
Project description:The accelerating rate of change in biodiversity patterns, mediated by ever increasing human pressures and global warming, demands a better understanding of the relationship between the structure of biological communities and ecosystem functioning (BEF). Recent investigations suggest that the functional structure of communities, i.e. the composition and diversity of functional traits, is the main driver of ecological processes. However, the predictive power of BEF research is still low, the integration of all components of functional community structure as predictors is still lacking, and the multifunctionality of ecosystems (i.e. rates of multiple processes) must be considered. Here, using a multiple-processes framework from grassland biodiversity experiments, we show that functional identity of species and functional divergence among species, rather than species diversity per se, together promote the level of ecosystem multifunctionality with a predictive power of 80%. Our results suggest that primary productivity and decomposition rates, two key ecosystem processes upon which the global carbon cycle depends, are primarily sustained by specialist species, i.e. those that hold specialized combinations of traits and perform particular functions. Contrary to studies focusing on single ecosystem functions and considering species richness as the sole measure of biodiversity, we found a linear and non-saturating effect of the functional structure of communities on ecosystem multifunctionality. Thus, sustaining multiple ecological processes would require focusing on trait dominance and on the degree of community specialization, even in species-rich assemblages.
Project description:The bulk of experiments that study stressor effects on ecosystem functioning consider only individual functions one at a time, and such narrow focus may well bias our understanding of the overall impact on ecosystem functioning. We used data from six published experiments in which marine illuminated sediment systems were exposed to nutrient enrichment, toxicants, sedimentation and warming, either alone or in combination. Measured functions were primary production, community respiration, inorganic nitrogen and phosphorus fluxes, and autotrophic biomass. We calculated two indices of multifunctionality that simultaneously considered all six functions: (i) a weighted average level of the functions and (ii) the number of functions that simultaneously exceed a critical threshold level. Stressors affected individual functions both positively and negatively, but multifunctionality was generally unaffected by both single and joint stressors. The filtering capacity of coastal illuminated sediment systems thus appears resilient to exposure to moderate levels of multiple stressors, most probably due to the robustness of the benthic microalgal community. We recommend using a multifunctionality approach in future studies on cumulative stressor effects on ecosystem functioning, particularly when considering functions related to ecosystem services.
Project description:Species diversity promotes the delivery of multiple ecosystem functions (multifunctionality). However, the relative functional importance of rare and common species in driving the biodiversity-multifunctionality relationship remains unknown. We studied the relationship between the diversity of rare and common species (according to their local abundances and across nine different trophic groups), and multifunctionality indices derived from 14 ecosystem functions on 150 grasslands across a land-use intensity (LUI) gradient. The diversity of above- and below-ground rare species had opposite effects, with rare above-ground species being associated with high levels of multifunctionality, probably because their effects on different functions did not trade off against each other. Conversely, common species were only related to average, not high, levels of multifunctionality, and their functional effects declined with LUI. Apart from the community-level effects of diversity, we found significant positive associations between the abundance of individual species and multifunctionality in 6% of the species tested. Species-specific functional effects were best predicted by their response to LUI: species that declined in abundance with land use intensification were those associated with higher levels of multifunctionality. Our results highlight the importance of rare species for ecosystem multifunctionality and help guiding future conservation priorities.
Project description:Biodiversity loss has become a global concern as evidence accumulates that it will negatively affect ecosystem services on which society depends. So far, most studies have focused on the ecological consequences of above-ground biodiversity loss; yet a large part of Earth's biodiversity is literally hidden below ground. Whether reductions of biodiversity in soil communities below ground have consequences for the overall performance of an ecosystem remains unresolved. It is important to investigate this in view of recent observations that soil biodiversity is declining and that soil communities are changing upon land use intensification. We established soil communities differing in composition and diversity and tested their impact on eight ecosystem functions in model grassland communities. We show that soil biodiversity loss and simplification of soil community composition impair multiple ecosystem functions, including plant diversity, decomposition, nutrient retention, and nutrient cycling. The average response of all measured ecosystem functions (ecosystem multifunctionality) exhibited a strong positive linear relationship to indicators of soil biodiversity, suggesting that soil community composition is a key factor in regulating ecosystem functioning. Our results indicate that changes in soil communities and the loss of soil biodiversity threaten ecosystem multifunctionality and sustainability.