A methodological framework to assess the influence of land-use/land cover change on ecosystem services in an urban watershed
Urban watersheds are heterogeneous, complex mosaics of developed and vegetated areas with variable structure and dynamics. With continued changes in land-use/land cover (LULC) there are corresponding changes in ecosystem services. These are difficult to assess because the interaction of social and ecological variables drive urban processes over time and space. It is only through integrated methods that we can observe how these variables influence LULC change. Therefore, the development of interdisciplinary methodological frameworks to bridge these concerns are crucial to understanding the affect of LULC change on ecosystem services.
We propose a three-stage framework that combines both new and existing methods and data across a range of disciplines. To illustrate this we provide a study conducted in a sub-basin of the Tampa Bay Watershed (TBW) in west-central Florida to project aboveground tree carbon storage over a 10-year period. Projections were obtained by integrating LULC change with tree growth. The three stages are as follows: 1. Estimate aboveground tree carbon by LULC class; 2. Adapt and parameterize an established LULC model (CLUE-S) to project landscape composition, distribution, and quantity in the TBW (2013-2022); 3. Estimate changes in aboveground tree carbon at the landscape level by combining observed changes in carbon with modeled LULC change. Further, we provide a number of potential political, economic and ecological scenarios to discuss possible future outcomes. This framework can be adapted or expanded by other urban researchers to investigate additional ecosystem services.