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Universiteit Utrecht (2013)

The impact of land degradation on two contrasting dryland ecosystems and the ecosystem services they provide and their potentials for restoration

Boeschoten, M.J.C.

Titre : The impact of land degradation on two contrasting dryland ecosystems and the ecosystem services they provide and their potentials for restoration.

Auteur : Boeschoten, M.J.C.

Université de soutenance : Universiteit Utrecht

Grade : Master thesis 2013

Résumé
Drylands are among the most fragile ecosystems on earth, supporting over 2 billion people in numerous ecosystem goods and services. With accumulation of past pressures, increasing anthropogenic activity and projected future climate change, further degradation of drylands is to be expected. Due to their complexity and the non-linearity of degradation trajectories, drylands are to date not well understood. Unforeseen threshold effects can occur and result in sudden ecosystem shifts with possible devastating consequences for the goods and services millions of people obtain from these systems. While ecological restoration provides good opportunities to prevent and confront further degradation and recent advances have been made, rates of success in drylands has been low. This study aims to improve current understanding of the effects of degradation and potentials of restoration on the structure, function and ecosystem services of dryland ecosystems. Two contrasting dryland ecosystems in SE Spain (Albatera & Ayora) with a history of several restoration activities were studied. Several fieldwork methodologies (Landscape Functional Analysis, Vegetation-Point-Intercept, Soil Sampling) were applied to measure for various ecosystem properties and ecological indicators, from which ecosystem services were derived. This method was applied on a range of degraded, ‘restored’ and ‘reference’ states. Results showed a decrease of all ecosystem services resulting from degradation in Albatera and a few minor successes resulting from restoration, predominantly from more recent restoration activities. In Ayora, degradation had no clear effect on ecosystem structure, function and services. Remarkably, restoration activities did show deteriorating effects on nutrient cycling, water and soil conservation. Site-specific effects and different mechanisms highlighted in this study call for tailored restoration measures

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Page publiée le 28 novembre 2013, mise à jour le 27 septembre 2017