Effects of landscape configuration on mapping ecosystem service capacity: a review of evidence and a case study in Scotland

Willem Verhagen*, Astrid J A Van Teeffelen, Andrea Baggio Compagnucci, Laura Poggio, Alessandro Gimona, Peter H. Verburg

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to JournalArticleAcademicpeer-review



Humans structure landscapes for the production of food, fibre and fuel, commonly resulting in declines of non-provisioning ecosystem services (ESs). Heterogeneous landscapes are capable of providing multiple ESs, and landscape configuration—spatial arrangement of land cover in the landscape—is expected to affect ES capacity. However, the majority of ES mapping studies have not accounted for landscape configuration.

Our objective is to assess and quantify the relevance of configuration for mapping ES capacity. A review of empirical evidence for configuration effects on the capacity of ten ESs reveals that for four ESs configuration is relevant but typically ignored in ES quantification. For four ESs we quantify the relevance of configuration for mapping ESs using Scotland as a case study.

Each ES was quantified through modelling, respectively ignoring or accounting for configuration. The difference in ES capacity between the two ES models was determined at multiple spatial scales.

Configuration affected the capacity of all four ESs mapped, particularly at the cell and watershed scale. At the scale of Scotland most local effects averaged out. Flood control and sediment retention responded strongest to configuration. ESs were affected by different aspects of configuration, thus requiring specific methods for mapping each ES.

Accounting for configuration is important for the assessment of certain ESs at the cell and watershed scale. Incorporating configuration in landscape management provides opportunities for spatial optimization of ES capacity, but the diverging response of ESs to configuration suggests that accounting for configuration involves trade-offs between ESs.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1457-1479
Number of pages23
JournalLandscape Ecology
Issue number7
Early online date23 Feb 2016
Publication statusPublished - 1 Sep 2016



  • InVEST
  • Land use Land cover
  • Landscape heterogeneity
  • Landscape structure
  • Multifunctional landscapes
  • Trade-off

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