Assessment of changes in ecosystem service delivery: a historical perspective on catchment landscapes

Sikhululekile Ncube (Lead / Corresponding author), Christopher Spray, Alistair Geddes

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    Although the relationships between habitats and ecosystem services have been acknowledged, investigating spatio-temporal change in these has received far less attention. This study assesses the influence of habitat changes on ecosystem services delivery across space and time, based on two time points some 60 years apart; 1946 and 2009. 1946 aerial photo coverage of two catchments in Scotland was used to construct digital photo mosaics which were then visually interpreted and digitised to derive historic habitat maps. Using the Spatial Evidence for Natural Capital Evaluation (SENCE) mapping approach, the derived habitat maps were translated into ecosystem service maps. These were then compared with contemporary ecosystem service maps of the two catchments, using the same mapping methodology. Increases in provisioning ecosystem services were associated with increases in intensively managed habitats, with reductions in supply capacity of other regulating and supporting ecosystem services associated with a loss of semi-natural habitats. Ecosystem service delivery was not only affected by gross area changes in habitats over time, but also by changes in configuration and spatial distribution of constituent habitats, including fragmentation and connectivity. It is argued that understanding historic changes in ecosystem services adds an important strand in providing baselines to inform options for current and future management of catchments.
    Original languageEnglish
    Pages (from-to)145-161
    Number of pages19
    JournalInternational Journal of Biodiversity Science Ecosystem Services and Management (IJBESM)
    Issue number1
    Early online date2 Jul 2018
    Publication statusPublished - 2018


    • Catchment management
    • spatio-temporal change
    • ecosystem services
    • habitats
    • landscapes


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