How spatial scale shapes the generation and management of multiple ecosystem services

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle


The spatial extent of ecological processes has consequences for the generation of ecosystem services related to them. However, management often fails to consider issues of scale when targeting ecological processes underpinning ecosystem services generation. Here, we present a framework for conceptualizing how the amount and spatial scale (here discussed in terms of extent) of management interventions alter interactions among multiple ecosystem services. First, we identify four types of responses of ecosystem service generation: linear, exponential, saturating, and sigmoid, and how these are related to the amount of management intervention at a particular spatial scale. Second, using examples from multiple ecosystem services in agricultural landscapes, we examine how the shape of these relationships can vary with the spatial scale at which the management interventions are implemented. Third, we examine the resulting scale-dependent consequences for trade-offs and synergies between ecosystem services as a consequence of interventions. Finally, to inform guidelines for management of multiple ecosystem services in real landscapes, we end with a discussion linking the theoretical relationships with how landscape configurations and placement of interventions can alter the scale at which synergies and trade-offs among services occur.


  • Regina Lindborg
  • Line J. Gordon
  • Rebecka Malinga
  • Jan Bengtsson
  • Garry D. Peterson
  • Riccardo Bommarco
  • Lisa Deutsch
  • Asa Gren
  • Maj Rundlof
  • Henrik G. Smith
External organisations
  • Stockholm University
  • University of KwaZulu-Natal
  • Swedish University of Agricultural Sciences
  • Stellenbosch University
  • Beijer Institute of Ecological Economics
Research areas and keywords

Subject classification (UKÄ) – MANDATORY

  • Ecology


  • Agricultural landscapes, Ecosystem function, Management interventions, Multifunctional landscape, Scale mismatch, Spatial extent, Synergies, Trade-offs
Original languageEnglish
Article numbere01741
Issue number4
Publication statusPublished - 2017 Apr 1
Publication categoryResearch

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