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  1. Free, publicly-accessible full text available January 1, 2024
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  3. Abstract

    Addressing how ecosystem services (ES) are distributed among groups of people is critical for making conservation and environmental policy-making more equitable. Here, we evaluate the distribution and equity of changes in ES benefits across demographic and socioeconomic groups in the United States (US) between 2020 and 2100. Specifically, we use land cover and population projections to model potential shifts in the supply, demand, and benefits of the following ES: provision of clean air, protection against a vector-borne disease (West Nile virus), and crop pollination. Across the US, changes in ES benefits are unevenly distributed among socioeconomic and demographic groups and among rural and urban communities, but are relatively uniform across geographic regions. In general, non-white, lower-income, and urban populations disproportionately bear the burden of declines in ES benefits. This is largely driven by the conversion of forests and wetlands to cropland and urban land cover in counties where these populations are expected to grow. In these locations, targeted land use policy interventions are required to avoid exacerbating inequalities already present in the US.

  4. Abstract

    The combined impacts of climate change and ecological degradation are expected to worsen inequality within society. These dynamics are exemplified by increases in flood risk globally. In general, low‐income and socially vulnerable populations disproportionately bear the cost of flood damages. Climate change is expected to increase the number of people exposed to fluvial flood risk and cause greater property damages. Floodplain restoration has the potential to mitigate these impacts, but the distribution of future risks among different types of property owners under these altered conditions is often unknown.

    Here, we develop a simple probabilistic approach for estimating flood risk to property owners under floodplain restoration and climate change scenarios for a range of flood recurrence intervals. We apply this approach in the Vermont, USA portion of the Lake Champlain Basin.

    Over a 100‐year time horizon, we estimate that the value of property damages caused by flood inundation is approximately $2.13 billion under the baseline scenario. Climate change is expected to increase damages to $5.29 billion, a 148% increase; however, floodplain restoration has the potential to reduce these impacts by approximately 20%.

    For all scenarios, a larger proportion of lower‐value properties, specifically mobile homes, face greater flood risk compared to higher‐value properties. Climate change ismore »expected to cost higher‐value properties and commercial properties more than other types of properties, but these same groups are also expected to benefit most from floodplain restoration.

    In general, these results raise concern that those least able to prepare for and recover from flood damages are also the people who face the greatest threats. In response, public policy interventions must consider not only where flood risk is most severe, but also the vulnerability of people exposed to such risk.

    Read the freePlain Language Summaryfor this article on the Journal blog.

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  5. Abstract

    Excessive phosphorus (P) export to aquatic ecosystems can lead to impaired water quality. There is a growing interest among watershed managers in using restored wetlands to retain P from agricultural landscapes and improve water quality. We develop a novel framework for prioritizing wetland restoration at a regional scale. The framework uses an ecosystem service model and an optimization algorithm that maximizes P reduction for given levels of restoration cost. Applying our framework in the Lake Champlain Basin, we find that wetland restoration can reduce P export by 2.6% for a budget of $50 M and 5.1% for a budget of $200 M. Sensitivity analysis shows that using finer spatial resolution data for P sources results in twice the P reduction benefits at a similar cost by capturing hot-spots on the landscape. We identify 890 wetlands that occur in more than 75% of all optimal scenarios and represent priorities for restoration. Most of these wetlands are smaller than 7 ha with contributing area less than 100 ha and are located within 200 m of streams. Our approach provides a simple yet robust tool for targeting restoration efforts at regional scales and is readily adaptable to other restoration strategies.

  6. Abstract

    Enhancing floral resources is a widely accepted strategy for supporting wild bees and promoting crop pollination. Planning effective enhancements can be informed with pollination service models, but these models should capture the behavioural and spatial dynamics of service‐providing organisms. Model predictions, and hence management recommendations, are likely to be sensitive to these dynamics.

    We used two established models of pollinator foraging to investigate whether habitat enhancement improves crop visitation; whether this effect is influenced by pollinator foraging distance and landscape pattern; and whether behavioural detail improves model predictions.

    The more detailed central place foraging model better predicted variation in bee visitation observed between habitat types, because it includes optimized trade‐offs between patch quality and distance. Both models performed well when predicting visitation rates across broader scales.

    Using real agricultural landscapes and simulating habitat enhancements, we show that additional floral resources can have diverging effects on predicted crop visitation. When only co‐flowering resources were added, optimally foraging bees concentrated in enhancements to the detriment of crop pollination. For both models, adding nesting resources increased crop visitation. Finally, the marginal effect of enhancements was greater in simple landscapes.

    Synthesis and applications. Model results help to identify the conditions under which habitat enhancements are most likelymore »to increase pollination services in agriculture. Three design principles for pollinator habitat enhancement emerge: (a) enhancing only flowers can diminish services by distracting pollinators away from crops, (b) providing nesting resources is more likely to increase bee populations and crop visitation and (c) the benefit of enhancements will be greatest in landscapes that do not already contain abundant habitat.

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  7. Abstract

    Supporting ecosystem services and conserving biodiversity may be compatible goals, but there is concern that service‐focused interventions mostly benefit a few common species. We use a spatially replicated, multiyear experiment in four agricultural settings to test if enhancing habitat adjacent to crops increases wild bee diversity and abundance on and off crops. We found that enhanced field edges harbored more taxonomically and functionally abundant, diverse, and compositionally different bee communities compared to control edges. Enhancements did not increase the abundance or diversity of bees visiting crops, indicating that the supply of pollination services was unchanged following enhancement. We find that actions to promote crop pollination improve multiple dimensions of biodiversity, underscoring their conservation value, but these benefits may not be spilling over to crops. More work is needed to identify the conditions that promote effective co‐management of biodiversity and ecosystem services.