Reconciling community ecology and ecosystem services: cultural services and benefits from birds in South African National Parks

Cumming, Graeme S., and Maciejewski, Kristine (2017) Reconciling community ecology and ecosystem services: cultural services and benefits from birds in South African National Parks. Ecosystem Services, 28 (Part B). pp. 219-227.

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Abstract

The ecosystem services paradigm has been used to bridge disciplinary boundaries and to justify conservation action. Protected areas are now expected to both meet species-level conservation objectives and provide ecosystem services. The relationships between species composition and cultural benefits to people are, however, poorly understood. We quantified benefit-biodiversity relationships between birders and bird communities in South African National Parks to test four hypotheses: 'more is better', the threshold hypothesis, the rarity hypothesis, and the contextual hypothesis. Data were collected along 293 routes in a paired sampling design. Expert birders, collecting classical point count data, followed (24 h later) the GPS-tracked routes of amateur birders. Amateurs completed satisfaction surveys after each route. Bird-related variables, such as diversity and activity, explained c. 27% of variance in birder benefits; other variables, such as the weather and landscape beauty, increased this to 57%. Linear models partially supported 'more is better', but indicated that birders adjust expectations and resulting benefits with location. Cultural benefits are delivered at scales ranging from organisms to landscapes. Conserving cultural ecosystem services is not equivalent to conserving species composition. Rigorous measurement of cultural ecosystem services and benefits demands a multi-scale, multi-level perspective that links people to species, ecological communities, and landscapes.

Item ID: 51840
Item Type: Article (Refereed Research - C1)
Keywords: birding, tourism, biodiversity, national park, conservation, ecosystem function, South Africa
ISSN: 2212-0416
Funders: National Research Foundation of South Africa (NRF), DST/NRF Centre of Excellence at the Percy FitzPatrick Institute
Projects and Grants: NRF Blue Skies grant
Date Deposited: 20 Dec 2017 07:47
FoR Codes: 06 BIOLOGICAL SCIENCES > 0602 Ecology > 060202 Community Ecology (excl Invasive Species Ecology) @ 50%
05 ENVIRONMENTAL SCIENCES > 0501 Ecological Applications > 050104 Landscape Ecology @ 50%
SEO Codes: 96 ENVIRONMENT > 9606 Environmental and Natural Resource Evaluation > 960609 Sustainability Indicators @ 30%
96 ENVIRONMENT > 9605 Ecosystem Assessment and Management > 960501 Ecosystem Assessment and Management at Regional or Larger Scales @ 30%
90 COMMERCIAL SERVICES AND TOURISM > 9003 Tourism > 900302 Socio-Cultural Issues in Tourism @ 40%
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