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UBC Theses and Dissertations

Long-term mapping of ecosystem services in a river-floodplain system Tomscha, Stephanie Anne


Humans derive a wide range of benefits from ecosystems, known as ecosystem services (ES). At the nexus of land and water, floodplains are particularly important for providing ES. Recently, problematic declines in ES have motivated research to better understand their spatial distributions. However, the temporal dynamics of critically important floodplain-specific ES remain poorly understood. These spatial and temporal dynamics as well as trade-offs that occur when management enhances one ES at the expense of others are particularly germane as a warming climate alters river flows. Landscape history is foundational to elucidating these dynamics. Here, I explore the importance of landscape history for understanding the historical, contemporary, and future distributions of ES in the Wenatchee watershed, central Washington State. Using several widely-used datasets in novel ways, my dissertation has five primary objectives (1) quantify the relative importance of different landscape positions for frontier settlers, (2) map change in ES from 1949-2006 using high-resolution imagery, (3) enhance understanding of ES interactions by incorporating change in ES over time, (4) explore the spatial distribution of floodplain-specific ES, and (5) conceptualize shifts in ES under future climates. I found riparian zones and floodplains were disproportionately important for frontier settlement, setting the stage to explore floodplain-specific ES in more detail. ES were dynamic from 1949-2006, largely driven by increasing urbanization and forest densification. Next, I showed how history can provide important insights into ES interactions. Finally, I also found floodplain ES varied considerably with floodplain position. Analyses over broad time frames and at fine spatial scales greatly enhance our understanding of ES dynamics, highlighting the need for long-term monitoring for ES, especially as ES continue to interact under future climates.

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Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivs 2.5 Canada