Risk to the supply of ecosystem services across aquatic ecosystems
The capacity of ecosystems to supply ecosystem services is decreasing. Sustaining this supply requires an understanding of the links between the impacts of pressures introduced by human activities and how this can lead to changes in the supply of services. Here, we apply a novel approach, assessing ‘risk to ecosystem service supply’ (RESS), across a range of aquatic ecosystems in seven case studies. We link aggregate impact risk from human activities on ecosystem components, with a relative score of their potential to supply services. The greatest RESS is found where an ecosystem component with a high potential to supply services is subject to high impact risk. In this context, we explore variability in RESS across 99 types of aquatic ecosystem component from 11 realms, ranging from oceanic to wetlands. We explore some causes of variability in the RESS observed, including assessment area, Gross Domestic Product (GDP) and population density. We found that Lakes, Rivers, Inlets and Coastal realms had some of the highest RESS, though this was highly dependent on location. We found a positive relationship between impact risk and service supply potential, indicating the ecosystem components we rely on most for services, are also those most at risk. However, variability in this relationship indicates that protecting the supply of ecosystem services alone will not protect all parts of the ecosystem at high risk. Broad socio-economic factors explained some of the variability found in RESS. For example, RESS was positively associated with GDP and artificial and agricultural land use in most realms, highlighting the need to achieve balance between increasing GDP and sustaining ecosystem health and human wellbeing more broadly. This approach can be used for sustainable management of ecosystem service use, to highlight the ecosystem components most critical to supplying services, and those most at risk.
Authors: Fiona Culhane, Heliana Teixeira, Antonio Nogueira, Florian Borgwardt, Daniel Trauner, Ana Lillebø, Gerjan Piet, Mathias Kuemmerlen, Hugh McDonald, Tim O’Higgins, Ana Barbosa, Jan van der Wal, Alejandro Iglesias-Campos, Juan Arevalo-Torres, Julian Barbière, Leonie Robinson