95th ESA Annual Meeting (August 1 -- 6, 2010)

SS 18- - Toward a science of humans-in-nature: The role of pattern in assessing multi-scale vulnerability of natural capital

Tuesday, August 3, 2010: 8:15 PM
303-304, David L Lawrence Convention Center
Giovanni Zurlini, Department of Biological and Environmental Sciences and Technologies, University of Salento, Italy, I. Petrosillo and N. Zaccarelli
Understanding natural capital vulnerability in social–ecological landscapes (SELs) requires understanding how the actions of humans as a keystone species shape the environment across a range of scales in a panarchy of SELs taking into account the scales and patterns of human land use as ecosystem disturbances. We detect and quantify the scales and spatial patterns of human land use as ecosystem disturbances at different hierarchical levels in a panarchy of (SELs) by using a conceptual framework that characterizes multi-scale disturbance patterns exhibited on satellite imagery. We exemplify the approach for the Apulia region, in South Italy. We advance the measure of the functional importance of ecosystem service providers (ESPs) given by natural areas and permanent cultivations based on their effectiveness at performing the services taking into account the pattern of disturbance at multiple scales. Any landscape element contributes to the overall proportion of disturbance in the region, through its composition of disturbed locations (pixels), and to the overall disturbance connectivity through its configuration. Such landscape elements represent, in turn, functional units for assessing functional contributions of ES providers at different scale(s) of operation of the service. In this respect, consistent throughout the literature is the notion that the vulnerability of any system, like ESPs, at any scale is a function of the exposure and sensitivity of that system to hazardous conditions (disturbance) and the ability or capacity or resilience of the system to cope, adapt or recover from the effects of those conditions. We reasonably assume that such effectiveness at performing the services will result directly affected by both how much disturbance (disturbance composition) surrounds ESP locations at different neighborhoods, and how such disturbance is spatially arranged (disturbance configuration) in those neighborhoods. Land uses and covers within SEL mosaics not only might be disturbed by various agents, but also might act as a ‘‘source’’ or a ‘‘sink’’ as to the potential spread of disturbance to neighboring non-agricultural areas (sink) where most of ES providers reside, as it may occur because of disturbance agents like, for instance, fire, pesticides, herbicides, pests, disease, alien species, urban sprawl. Multi-scale measurements of the spatial pattern given by composition and configuration of disturbance are the basis for evaluating vulnerability of ecosystem services through multi-scale disturbance profiles concerning land-use locations where most of ecosystem service providers reside. We extended Vulnerability estimates also to temporal high frequency MODIS NDVI data through spectral entropy algorithm. Scale range couplings or mismatches among land-use disturbances related to different land uses are derived and revealed by trajectories from the global profile to local spatial patterns. Scale mismatches of disturbances in space and time determine the role of land use as a disturbance source or sink, and may govern the triggering of landscape changes affecting ecosystem service providers at the scale(s) of operation of the service. In this case study, the role of natural areas and permanent cultivations (olive groves and vineyards) in providing disturbance regulation across scales has consequences for regional SELs since it may govern if and how disturbances associated with land-use intensification (sources) will affect the functional contribution of ES providers.