Tradeoffs and Compatibilities Among Ecosystem Services: Biological, Physical and Economic Drivers of Multifunctionality

Bradley J. Butterfield, Ashley L. Camhi, Rachel L. Rubin, Christopher R. Schwalm

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingConference contribution

29 Scopus citations


Balancing the joint production of multiple ecosystem services, also referred to as the 'multifunctionality' of an ecosystem or landscape, requires understanding of the ecological processes that produce and economic processes that evaluate those services. Here, we review the ecological tradeoffs and compatibilities among ecosystem processes that influence ecosystem multifunctionality with respect to ecosystem services, including variation in functional strategies, constraints on community assembly and direct effects of the abiotic environment. We then review how different valuation methods may alter the magnitude of tradeoffs and compatibilities in monetary terms. Among communities, functional diversity increases ecosystem multifunctionality, but communityaverage trait values are emerging as important drivers of ecosystem services with greater potential to produce tradeoffs when compared to functional diversity. However, research that links organismal functional strategies to community assembly rules in real, heterogeneous landscapes demonstrate that predictable tradeoffs among species do not consistently scale up to the community level, necessitating further research on trait-based community assembly in order to develop general predictive models of biotic effects on ecosystem multifunctionality. Abiotic factors are frequently incorporated into mapping assessments of multifunctionality, but the emergent tradeoffs and compatibilities in ecosystem services driven by those factors are rarely assessed, despite a number of studies that have demonstrated their clear importance in ecosystem multifunctionality. Finally, while a variety of valuation methods are used to quantify the joint production of ecosystem services, only provisioning services are typically directly valued and assumed to have fixed correlations with other ecosystem services that can lead to inaccurate valuation, and potentially inappropriate prioritisation, of multiple ecosystem services.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Title of host publicationEcosystem Services
Subtitle of host publicationFrom Biodiversity to Society, Part 2, 2016
EditorsDavid A. Bohan, Guy Woodward
PublisherAcademic Press Inc.
Number of pages37
ISBN (Print)9780081009789
StatePublished - 2016

Publication series

NameAdvances in Ecological Research
ISSN (Print)0065-2504

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Ecology, Evolution, Behavior and Systematics
  • Ecology


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