Ecosystem service change caused by climatological and non-climatological drivers: a Swiss case study

Braun, Daniela; Jong, Rogier de; Schaepman, Michael E.; Furrer, Reinhard; Hein, Lars; Kienast, Felix; Damm, Alexander


Understanding the drivers of ecosystem change and their effects on ecosystem services are essential for management decisions and verification of progress towards national and international sustainability policies (e.g., Aichi Biodiversity Targets, Sustainable Development Goals). We aim to disentangle spatially the effect of climatological and non-climatological drivers on ecosystem service supply and trends. Therefore, we explored time series of three ecosystem services in Switzerland between 2004 and 2014: carbon dioxide regulation, soil erosion prevention, and air quality regulation. We applied additive models to describe the spatial variation attributed to climatological (i.e., temperature, precipitation and relative sunshine duration) and non-climatological drivers (i.e., random effects representing other spatially structured processes) that may affect ecosystem service change. Obtained results indicated strong influences of climatological drivers on ecosystem service trends in Switzerland. We identified equal contributions of all three climatological drivers on trends of carbon dioxide regulation and soil erosion prevention, while air quality regulation was more strongly influenced by temperature. Additionally, our results showed that climatological and non-climatological drivers affected ecosystem services both negatively and positively, depending on the regions (in particular lower and higher altitudinal areas), drivers, and services assessed. Our findings highlight stronger effects of climatological compared to non-climatological drivers on ecosystem service change in Switzerland. Furthermore, drivers of ecosystem change display a spatial heterogeneity in their influence on ecosystem service trends. We propose an approach building on an additive model to disentangle the effect of climatological and non-climatological drivers on ecosystem service trends. Such analyses should be extended in the future to ecosystem service flow and demand to complete ecosystem service assessments and to demonstrate and communicate more clearly the benefits of ecosystem services for human well-being.