Uncovering ecosystem service bundles through social preferences

Berta Martín-López, Irene Iniesta-Arandia, Marina García-Llorente, Ignacio Palomo, Izaskun Casado-Arzuaga, David García Del Amo, Erik Gómez-Baggethun, Elisa Oteros-Rozas, Igone Palacios-Agundez, Bárbara Willaarts, José A. González, Fernando Santos-Martín, Miren Onaindia, Cesar López-Santiago, Carlos Montes

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleResearchpeer-review

596 Citations (Scopus)


Ecosystem service assessments have increasingly been used to support environmental management policies, mainly based on biophysical and economic indicators. However, few studies have coped with the social-cultural dimension of ecosystem services, despite being considered a research priority. We examined how ecosystem service bundles and trade-offs emerge from diverging social preferences toward ecosystem services delivered by various types of ecosystems in Spain. We conducted 3,379 direct face-to-face questionnaires in eight different case study sites from 2007 to 2011. Overall, 90.5% of the sampled population recognized the ecosystem's capacity to deliver services. Formal studies, environmental behavior, and gender variables influenced the probability of people recognizing the ecosystem's capacity to provide services. The ecosystem services most frequently perceived by people were regulating services; of those, air purification held the greatest importance. However, statistical analysis showed that socio-cultural factors and the conservation management strategy of ecosystems (i.e., National Park, Natural Park, or a non-protected area) have an effect on social preferences toward ecosystem services. Ecosystem service trade-offs and bundles were identified by analyzing social preferences through multivariate analysis (redundancy analysis and hierarchical cluster analysis). We found a clear trade-off among provisioning services (and recreational hunting) versus regulating services and almost all cultural services. We identified three ecosystem service bundles associated with the conservation management strategy and the rural-urban gradient. We conclude that socio-cultural preferences toward ecosystem services can serve as a tool to identify relevant services for people, the factors underlying these social preferences, and emerging ecosystem service bundles and trade-offs.

Original languageEnglish
Article numbere38970
JournalPLoS ONE
Issue number6
Publication statusPublished - 18 Jun 2012


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