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Who is contributing where? Predicting ecosystem service multifunctionality for shellfish species through ecological principles

Lookup NU author(s): Dr Fabrice StephensonORCiD


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© 2021A key challenge in environmental management is determining how to manage multiple ecosystem services (ES) simultaneously, to ensure efficient and sustainable use of the environment and its resources. In marine environments, the spatial assessment of ES is lagging as a result of data-scarcity and modelling complexity. Applying mechanistic models to link ecological processes with ecosystem functions and services to assess areas of high ES potential can bridge this gap and accommodate assessments of functional differences between service providers. Here, we applied an ecosystem principles approach to assess ES potential for food provision, water quality regulation, nitrogen removal, and sediment stabilisation, provided by two estuarine bivalves (Austrovenus stutchburyi and Paphies australis) that differ in habitat association (broad and narrow distributions), to gain insight into the utility of these models for local-scale management. Maps of individual ES displayed differing patterns related to habitat associations of the species providing them, with variation in the quantities of services being delivered and locations of importance. Areas of importance for the provision of multiple services (number of services provided and their combined intensity per species) were assessed using hotspot analyses, which suggested that areas of high shellfish density at the harbour entrances were important for ES multifunctionality. A targeted management approach that includes environmental context, rather than a focus solely on the protection of high-density shellfish areas, is required to sustain the provision of individual ES.

Publication metadata

Author(s): Rullens V, Townsend M, Lohrer AM, Stephenson F, Pilditch CA

Publication type: Article

Publication status: Published

Journal: Science of the Total Environment

Year: 2022

Volume: 808

Print publication date: 20/02/2022

Online publication date: 03/12/2021

Acceptance date: 29/11/2021

ISSN (print): 0048-9697

ISSN (electronic): 1879-1026

Publisher: Elsevier B.V.


DOI: 10.1016/j.scitotenv.2021.152147

PubMed id: 34864024


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