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Keywords:

  • Conservation biology;
  • ecosystem service;
  • habitat loss;
  • landscape ecology;
  • mobile link;
  • natural resource management;
  • pollinator

Abstract

Many ecosystem services are delivered by organisms that depend on habitats that are segregated spatially or temporally from the location where services are provided. Management of mobile organisms contributing to ecosystem services requires consideration not only of the local scale where services are delivered, but also the distribution of resources at the landscape scale, and the foraging ranges and dispersal movements of the mobile agents. We develop a conceptual model for exploring how one such mobile-agent-based ecosystem service (MABES), pollination, is affected by land-use change, and then generalize the model to other MABES. The model includes interactions and feedbacks among policies affecting land use, market forces and the biology of the organisms involved. Animal-mediated pollination contributes to the production of goods of value to humans such as crops; it also bolsters reproduction of wild plants on which other services or service-providing organisms depend. About one-third of crop production depends on animal pollinators, while 60–90% of plant species require an animal pollinator. The sensitivity of mobile organisms to ecological factors that operate across spatial scales makes the services provided by a given community of mobile agents highly contextual. Services vary, depending on the spatial and temporal distribution of resources surrounding the site, and on biotic interactions occurring locally, such as competition among pollinators for resources, and among plants for pollinators. The value of the resulting goods or services may feed back via market-based forces to influence land-use policies, which in turn influence land management practices that alter local habitat conditions and landscape structure. Developing conceptual models for MABES aids in identifying knowledge gaps, determining research priorities, and targeting interventions that can be applied in an adaptive management context.