Decision makers and stakeholders need high-quality data to manage ecosystem services (ES) efficiently. Landscape-level data on ES that are of sufficient quality to identify spatial tradeoffs, co-occurrence and hotspots of ES are costly to collect, and it is therefore important to increase the efficiency of sampling of primary data. We demonstrate how ES could be assessed more efficiently through image-based point intercept method and determine the tradeoff between the number of sample points (pins) used per image and the robustness of the measurements. We performed a permutation study to assess the reliability implications of reducing the number of pins per image. We present a flexible approach to optimize landscape-level assessments of ES that maximizes the information obtained from 1 m2 digital images. Our results show that 30 pins are sufficient to measure ecosystem service indicators with a crown cover higher than 5% for landscape scale assessments. Reducing the number of pins from 100 to 30 reduces the processing time up to a 50% allowing to increase the number of sampled plots, resulting in more management-relevant ecosystem service maps. The three criteria presented here provide a flexible approach for optimal design of landscape-level assessments of ES.
The socioeconomic causes of land use change are complex. They are highly context dependent, but most often studied through case studies. Here, we use a quasi-experimental paired block design to investigate whether better access to wage income leads to more visible land use around 28 settlements in six regions of the circumpolar Arctic. We mapped visible land use on high-resolution satellite images taken both close to the settlements, and in a more remote area of extensive land use, and payed special attention to tracks of off-road vehicles (ORV). Despite considerable differences among regions, there was an overall positive relationship between better access to wage income and land use. Reindeer herding was also associated with more visible use, in particular ORV tracks. These results suggest that access to wage income in the mixed subsistence-cash communities of the Arctic could lead to more local use related to harvesting and reindeer herding.
Sustainable resource management depends on support from the public and local stakeholders. Fish, wildlife, and land management in remote areas face the challenge of working across vast areas, often with limited resources, to monitor land use or the status of the fish-and-wildlife populations. Resource managers depend on local residents, often Indigenous, to gain information about environmental changes and harvest trends. Developing mutual trust is thus important for the transfer of knowledge and sustainable use of land resources. We interviewed residents of eight communities in Arctic Alaska and Canada and analyzed their trust in resource governance organizations using mixed-methods. Trust was much greater among Alaska (72%) and Nunavut (62%) residents than Churchill (23%). Trust was highest for organizations that dealt with fish and wildlife issues, had no legal enforcement rights, and were associated with Indigenous peoples. Local organizations were trusted more than non-local in Alaska and Nunavut, but the opposite was true in Churchill. Association tests and modeling indicated that characteristics of organizations were significantly related to trust, whereas education was among the few individual-level characteristics that mattered for trust. Familiarity, communication, and education are crucial to improve, maintain, or foster trust for more effective management of natural resources in such remote communities.
Role of site management in influencing visitor use along trails in multiple alpine protected areas in NorwayPublished: 01 June 2018 by Elsevier BV in Journal of Outdoor Recreation and Tourism
The migratory tundra caribou herds in North America follow decadal population cycles, and browsing from abundant caribou could be expected to counteract the current climate-driven expansion of shrubs in the circumpolar tundra biome. We demonstrate that the sea ice cover in the Arctic Ocean has provided a strong signal for climate-induced changes on the adjacent caribou summer ranges, outperforming other climate indices in explaining the caribou-plant dynamics. We found no evidence of a negative effect of caribou abundance on vegetation biomass. On the contrary, we found a strong bottom-up effect in which a warmer climate related to diminishing sea ice has increased the plant biomass on the summer pastures, along with a paradoxical decline in caribou populations. This result suggests that this climate-induced greening has been accompanied by a deterioration of pasture quality. The shrub expansion in Arctic North America involves plant species with strong antibrowsing defenses. Our results might therefore be an early signal of a climate-driven shift in the caribou-plant interaction from a system with low plant biomass modulated by cyclic caribou populations to a system dominated by nonedible shrubs and diminishing herds of migratory caribou.
An empirical evaluation of spatial value transfer methods for identifying cultural ecosystem servicesPublished: 01 October 2016 by Elsevier BV in Ecological Indicators
Highlights•Identifies spatial associations between cultural ecosystem services (CES) and land cover.•Examines key variables that can influence spatial value transfer outcomes for CES.•Compares spatial value transfer maps generated from primary data in two different regions.•Value transfer maps strongly correlated with maps generated from primary data.•Describes conditions for using spatial value transfer of CES. AbstractA significant barrier to the assessment of ecosystem services is a lack of primary data, especially for cultural ecosystem services. Spatial value transfer, also known as benefits transfer, is a method to identify the probable locations of ecosystem services based on empirical spatial associations found in other geographic locations. To date, there has been no systematic evaluation of spatial value transfer methods for cultural ecosystem services identified through participatory mapping methods. This research paper addresses this knowledge gap by examining key variables that influence value transfer for cultural ecosystem services: (1) the geographic setting, (2) the type of ecosystem services, and (3) the land cover data selected for value-transfer. Spatial data from public participation GIS (PPGIS) processes in two regions in Norway were used to evaluate spatial value transfer where the actual mapped distribution of cultural ecosystem values were compared to maps generated using value transfer coefficients. Six cultural ecosystem values were evaluated using two different land cover classification systems GlobCover (300 m resolution) and CORINE (100 m resolution). Value transfer maps based on the distribution of mapped ecosystem values produced strongly correlated results to primary data in both regions. Value transfer for cultural ecosystems appear valid under conditions where the primary data and value transfer regions have similar physical landscapes, the social and cultural values of the human populations are similar, and the primary data sample sizes are large and unbiased. We suggest the use of non-economic value transfer coefficients derived from participatory mapping as the current best approach for estimating the importance and spatial distribution of cultural ecosystem services.
Protected areas provide important ecosystem services globally but few studies have examined how cultural differences influence the distribution of cultural ecosystem values and management preferences. We used internet-based public participation GIS (PPGIS) in the countries of Norway and Poland to identify ecosystem values and management preferences in protected areas held by regional residents and site users. We found significant differences in the type and quantity of ecosystem values with Norwegians mapping more values relating to use of resources (e.g., hunting/fishing, gathering) and Polish respondents mapping more environmental values such as scenery, biological diversity, and water quality. With respect to management preferences, Norwegians identified more preferences for resource utilization while Polish respondents identified more preferences for conservation. Norwegian respondents were more satisfied with protected area management and local participation which can be explained by historical, legal, and cultural differences between the two countries. For Norway, biodiversity conservation in protected areas will continue to be guided by sustainable use of protected areas, rather than strict nature protection, with management favoring local board control and active public participation. For Poland, change in protected area management to enhance biodiversity conservation is less certain, driven by national environmental values that conflict with local values and preferences, continuing distrust in government, and low levels of civic participation. Differential efficacy in PPGIS methods – Norway with greater participation from household sampling and Poland with greater response using social media – suggest different strategies will be required for effective public engagement in protected area planning and management.
Physical landscape associations with mapped ecosystem values with implications for spatial value transfer: An empirical ...Published: 01 October 2015 by Elsevier BV in Ecosystem Services
We use demographic and economic indicators to analyze spatial differences and temporal trends across 18 regions surrounding the Arctic Ocean. Multifactor and cluster analysis were used on 10 indicators reflecting income, employment and demography from 1995 to 2008. The main difference is between regions with high population densities, low natural growth rate, and low unemployment (Russia, Norway and Iceland) and regions with high unemployment rate and high natural growth rate (mainly North American regions). However, once those parameters were accounted for sub-regional differences start to emerge. Variation among the regions was a result of national policies and regional differences such as access and presence of natural resources (i.e. oil, gas, mining, etc.). We found only weak temporal trends, but regions with resource extraction show some signs of higher volatility. Overall, the Arctic has experienced out-migration with only Iceland and two regions in Canada experiencing in-migration.
Protected area (PA) coverage is used as an indicator of biodiversity protection worldwide. The effectiveness of using PAs as indicators has been questioned due to the diversity of categories encompassed by such designations, especially in PAs established for purposes other than biodiversity protection. Although international standards have been developed by the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN), the policies on the ground have been developed independently of the IUCN categories, thus making the IUCN categories dubious measures of biodiversity conservation. Management plans are crucial for the effective management of parks and for guidance on how biodiversity maintenance should be prioritized relative to other goals. We therefore analyzed the aims and regulations of the management plans of alpine PAs in Spain as a first step in evaluating conservation performance. We used content analysis and correspondence analysis of instrumental variables (CAiv) to assess how aims and regulations vary in relation to three explanatory factors: IUCN categories, vegetation zones and autonomous communities. We found that the aims of many parks were vague, without clear indications of how to prioritize biodiversity goals. Furthermore, only 50% of the parks studied had any management plan, which strengthens our argument concerning the lack of clear guidance in PA management. Although certain aims were correlated with the IUCN categories, the regulations showed no clear relationship to international policies, which indicates that these aims do not necessarily influence management practices. Devolution to autonomous communities could be one explanation for the large variation in management practices among parks. Further studies are needed to evaluate the impact of such management policies on biodiversity.
Community-based management (CBM) has been implemented in socio-ecological systems (SES) worldwide. CBM has also been the prevailing policy in Sámi pastoral SES in Norway, but the outcomes tend to vary extensively among resource groups (“siidas”). We asked why do some siidas self-organize to manage common pool resources sustainably and others do not? To answer this question we used a mixed methods approach. First, in the statistical analyses we analyzed the relationship between sustainability indicators and structural variables. We found that small winter pastures that are shared by few siidas were managed more sustainably than larger pastures. Seasonal siida stability, i.e., a low turnover of pastoralists working together throughout the year, and equality among herders, also contributed to more sustainable outcomes. Second, interviews were conducted in the five largest pastures to explain the relationships between the structural variables and sustainability. The pastoralists expressed a high level of agreement with respect to sustainable policies, but reported a low level of trust and cooperation among the siidas. The pastoralists requested siida tenures or clear rules and sanctioning mechanisms by an impartial authority rather than flexible organization or more autonomy for the siidas. The lack of nestedness in self-organization for managing pastures on larger scales, combined with the past economic policies, could explain why CBM is less sustainable on the largest winter pastures. We conclude that the scale mis-match between self-organization and the formal governance is a key condition for sustainability.
Functional response diversity is defined as the diversity of responses to environmental change among species that contribute to the same ecosystem function. Because different ecological processes dominate on different spatial and temporal scales, response diversity is likely to be scale dependent. Using three extensive data sets on seabirds, pelagic fish, and zooplankton, we investigate the strength and diversity in the response of seabirds to prey in the North Sea over three scales of ecological organization. Two‐stage analyses were used to partition the variance in the abundance of predators and prey among the different scales of investigation: variation from year to year, variation among habitats, and variation on the local patch scale. On the year‐to‐year scale, we found a strong and synchronous response of seabirds to the abundance of prey, resulting in low response diversity. Conversely, as different seabird species were found in habitats dominated by different prey species, we found a high diversity in the response of seabirds to prey on the habitat scale. Finally, on the local patch scale, seabirds were organized in multispecies patches. These patches were weakly associated with patches of prey, resulting in a weak response strength and a low response diversity. We suggest that ecological similarities among seabird species resulted in low response diversity on the year‐to‐year scale. On the habitat scale, we suggest that high response diversity was due to interspecific competition and niche segregation among seabird species. On the local patch scale, we suggest that facilitation with respect to the detection and accessibility of prey patches resulted in overlapping distribution of seabirds but weak associations with prey. The observed scale dependencies in response strength and diversity have implications for how the seabird community will respond to different environmental disturbances.
Functional response diversity is defined as the diversity of responses to environmental change among species that contribute to the same ecosystem function. Because different ecological processes dominate on different spatial and temporal scales, response diversity is likely to be scale dependent. Using three extensive data sets on seabirds, pelagic fish, and zooplankton, we investigate the strength and diversity in the response of seabirds to prey in the North Sea over three scales of ecological organization. Two-stage analyses were used to partition the variance in the abundance of predators and prey among the different scales of investigation: variation from year to year, variation among habitats, and variation on the local patch scale. On the year-to-year scale, we found a strong and synchronous response of seabirds to the abundance of prey, resulting in low response diversity. Conversely, as different seabird species were found in habitats dominated by different prey species, we found a high diversity in the response of seabirds to prey on the habitat scale. Finally, on the local patch scale, seabirds were organized in multispecies patches. These patches were weakly associated with patches of prey, resulting in a weak response strength and a low response diversity. We suggest that ecological similarities among seabird species resulted in low response diversity on the year-to-year scale. On the habitat scale, we suggest that high response diversity was due to interspecific competition and niche segregation among seabird species. On the local patch scale, we suggest that facilitation with respect to the detection and accessibility of prey patches resulted in overlapping distribution of seabirds but weak associations with prey. The observed scale dependencies in response strength and diversity have implications for how the seabird community will respond to different environmental disturbances.
The region Finnmark, in northernmost Europe, harbors dense populations of semi-domestic reindeer of which some exhibit characteristics of overabundance. Whereas overabundance is evident in terms of density-dependent reductions in reindeer body mass, population growth and abundance of forage plants, claims have been made that this reindeer overabundance also has caused a trophic cascade. These claims are based on the main premise that reindeer overgrazing negatively impacts small-sized, keystone tundra herbivores. We tested this premise by a large-scale study in which the abundance of small rodents, hares and ptarmigans was indexed across reindeer management districts with strong differences in stocking densities. We examined the scale-dependent relations between reindeer, vegetation and these small-sized herbivores by employing a spatially hierarchical sampling design within the management districts. A negative impact of reindeer on ptarmigan, probably as a result of browsing reducing tall Salix, was indicated. However, small rodents (voles and lemmings), which are usually the keystone herbivores in the plant-based tundra food web, were not negatively impacted. On the contrary, there was a strong positive relationship between small rodents and reindeer, both at the scale of landscape areas and local patches, with characteristics of snow-bed vegetation, suggesting facilitation between Norwegian lemmings and reindeer. We conclude that the recent dampening of the vole and lemming population cycle with concurrent declines of rodent predators in northernmost Europe were not caused by large herbivore overgrazing.