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Ecosystem service trade-offs and their influencing factors: A case study in the Loess Plateau of China

Feng, Qiang, Zhao, Wenwu, Fu, Bojie, Ding, Jingyi, Wang, Shuai
The Science of the total environment 2017 v.607-608 pp. 1250-1263
Caragana korshinskii, Hippophae rhamnoides, Robinia pseudoacacia, afforestation, altitude, apples, carbon sequestration, case studies, ecosystem services, erosion control, grasses, indigenous species, orchards, sand, silt, soil erosion, soil properties, soil water, vegetation types, watersheds, China
Soil erosion control (SEC), carbon sequestration (CAS), and soil moisture (SMO) strongly interact in the semi-arid Loess Plateau. Since SMO has supportive effects on SEC and CAS, it can be considered as ecosystem service (ES), and there is an immediate need to coordinate the relationships among these ecosystem services (ESs) to promote the sustainability of vegetation recovery. In this study, we quantified the ESs, ES trade-offs, and the environmental factors in 151 sample plots in the Ansai watershed, and we used a redundancy analysis (RDA) to clarify the effects of environmental factors on these ESs and their trade-offs. The results were as follows: (1) the general trend in the SEC of vegetation types was Robinia pseudoacacia (CH)>native grass (NG)>small arbor (ST)>Hippophae rhamnoides (SJ)>artificial grass (AG)>Caragana korshinskii (NT)>apple orchard (GY)>crop (CP); the CAS trend was CH>SJ>NT>AG>CP>ST>GY>NG; and the SMO trend was CP>NG>GY>AG>SJ>ST>CH>NT. (2) For SEC-SMO trade-offs, the influence of vegetation type, altitude, silt and sand composition was dominant. The arrangement of NG, AG, and SJ could decrease the extent of the trade-offs. (3) For CAS-SMO trade-offs, vegetation coverage and types were the dominant factors, but the effects were not complex. The extent of these trade-offs was lowest for NT, and that for SJ was the second lowest. (4) Considering the relationships among the three ESs, SJ was the most appropriate afforestation plant. Combing the vegetation types, slope position, slope gradient, and soil properties could regulate these ES relationships. The dominant factors influencing ES trade-offs varied among the different soil layers, so we must consider the corresponding influencing factors to regulate ESs. Moreover, manual management measures were also important for coordinating the ES relationships. Our research provides a better understanding of the mechanisms influencing the relationships among ESs.