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[Research News] Spatial trade-offs and synergies among ecosystem services within a global biodiversity hotspot

    A recent study conducted by Prof. Ruidong Wu's team focused on the spatial interactions among multiple ecosystem services (ESs) within a global biodiversity hotspot known as the Three Parallel Rivers Region in Southwest China.

    The systematic investigation of the relationships among ESs has been a research hotspot in the fields of geography and ecology over the past decade. Managing ESs in a win-win manner is a necessary and challenging task. However, our understanding of the spatial interactions among ESs is relatively limited, particularly in mountainous areas. Recently, Conservation Biogeography Research Group of Institute of International Rivers and Eco-security has made a major progress in this field. Using the global biodiversity hotspot known as the Three Parallel Rivers Region in Southwest China as a case study, Prof. Ruidong Wu (corresponding author) and his student Shiwei Lin (first author)systematically investigated the spatial trade-offs and synergies among 8 ESs (i.e. crop production, livestock-raising, water supply, carbon storage, carbon sequestration, soil retention, habitat support and nature recreation, such a study has been published in an Elsevier’s Journal -Ecological Indicators(online:https://authors.elsevier.com/a/1VnFT_,3Lxxlx08).

    In this study, they mapped the township-level distributions of the 8 ESs and measured their relationships using Spearman’s rank correlation coefficients and overlap analyses of ES hotspots/coldspots. Four types of ES bundles were identified by applying the K-means clustering analysis to the 8 ESs. This research revealed high to moderate levels of interactions among most pairs of ESs. Most provisioning services showed trade-offs with ESs of the other categories, whereas most regulating services demonstrated synergies with other ESs. The ES bundles presented a reasonable set of ecological zones that were characterized by the provisions of different ESs. The spatial patterns of ESs and their interactions corresponded well to the regional socio-ecological gradients in topography, climate and human activities. The results should have important applications in regional decisionmakings on ecological environment protection, ecological red line delineation and land use planning. This study also provides a good case for demonstrating the complex relationships among ESs in a typical mountainous biodiversity hotspot.

    This work was supported by the National Key R & D Program of China (No. 2016YFC0502103) and the National Natural Science Foundation of China (No. 31670539). 

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