Landscape fragmentation and ecosystem services

Mitchell, M.G.E., Suarez-Castro, A.F., Martinez-Harms, M., Maron, M., McAlpine, C., Gaston, K.J., Johansen, K. & Rhodes, J.R. (2015) Reframing landscape fragmentation’s effects on ecosystem services. Trends in Ecology and Evolution 30(4), 190-198.

Landscape structure and fragmentation have important effects on ecosystem services, with a common assumption being that fragmentation reduces service provision. This is based on fragmentation’s expected effects on ecosystem service supply, but ignores how fragmentation influences the flow of services to people. Here we develop a new conceptual framework that explicitly considers the links between landscape fragmentation, the supply of services, and the flow of services to people. We argue that fragmentation’s effects on ecosystem service flow can be positive or negative, and use our framework to construct testable hypotheses about the effects of fragmentation on final ecosystem service provision. Empirical efforts to apply and test this framework are critical to improving landscape management for multiple ecosystem services.