Emergence and spatial dynamics of ecosystem service interactions in south-eastern Québec from 1960 to 2006
Nature provides a wide range of benefits to people. Past attempts to enhance a specific ecosystem service (ES), such as food production, have often led to unexpected and undesirable effects on other ES. To reduce these unwanted results, we need to better understand relationships among ES and the conditions under which synergies and trade-offs may arise across a landscape. With the unique perspective offered by a historical approach, we aimed to 1) identify sets of ES emerging together repeatedly (i.e., bundles) through time, 2) determine changes in the spatial distribution of these bundles and 3) identify the environmental and socio-economic variables that drive these spatio-temporal dynamics. We used archival data to quantify the delivery of nine ES (provisioning n=5; regulating n=1; cultural n=3) from 1960 to 2006 in South-Eastern Québec (Canada) and soils and socio-economic data (population density and distance from the market) as co-variables in a multivariate regression tree to explain ES interactions through time.
Using cluster analysis, we identified five ES bundles that occur repeatedly throughout the 1960-2006 period. Before 1970, a bundle, characterized by diverse provisioning services (crops, livestock and maple syrup), was dominant and homogeneously distributed across the region. After 1976, ES bundles diversified and showed a clustered distribution in space and time. Environmental and socio-economic factors were good predictors of the emergence and the spatial distribution of the bundles (R2=0.35). Counties close to Montreal and subject to urban sprawl exhibited two bundles: one dominated by cultural services and the second characterized by a trade-off between cultural and regulating services. Beyond a threshold distance of 51 km from the city, soil agricultural potential explained the differentiation between counties that specialized in provisioning services (on good soils) and counties characterized by a synergistic bundle of cultural and provisioning services (on poorer soils). In just 40 years, the landscape has lost multifunctionality and evenness in the provision of multiple ES. These trends may raise concerns about landscape resiliency. Our historical ES approach provides a clear picture that bundles are not static and that services provided by a landscape change through time and space with changing land use and management. Understanding these dynamics can inform management, ensuring the provision of multiple ES across the landscape.