Dr. Monica G.Turner
Department of Integrative Biology
University of Wisconsin
430 Lincoln Dr.
Madison, WI 53706
Ecosystem and
Landscape Ecology Lab

Yahara River Watershed Photos

Figure 1 Aerial view of Lake Mendota in the Yahara river watershed
Figure 2 Satellite imagery of the whole Yahara river watershed
Figure 3 NLCD land cover data (2006) for the study region

Tradeoffs and synergies among ecosystem services in an urbanizing agricultural landscape in the Upper Midwest, USA


Jiangxiao Qiu, Monica Turner


Ecosystem services, tradeoffs, synergies, land-use scenarios, land-water interaction, ecosystem management, landscape resilience, agricultural watershed, southern Wisconsin, spatial analysis

Project Summary

This is part of an NSF funded “Water Sustainability and Climate (WSC)” project—Climate change, shifting land use, and urbanization in a Midwestern agricultural landscape (wsc.limnology.wisc.edu) focused on the Yahara river watershed. The overarching question of this project is: How will ecosystem services related to freshwater vary and how can they be sustained in regional watersheds as climate, land use and land cover, land management, the built environmental and human demands?

Within this large project, our research seeks to understand the spatial interactions and dynamics of the delivery of multiple ecosystem services, and inform landscape management that attempts to sustain the benefits people obtain from ecosystems. Recent studies have raised the concern that urbanization is increasing in agricultural landscapes, and in concert with other changing drivers (i.e., climate change), land-use changes are likely to alter the production of ecosystem services. In human-dominated watersheds, these changing drivers alter land-water interactions and may undermine freshwater related services that are essential to human well-being. In addition, owing to the complex relationship among ecosystem services, management efforts to maximize the production of one ecosystem service often result in substantial declines or sudden shifts in the supply of other ecosystem services. Despite increasing attention to ecosystem services, few studies have explored spatial interactions and potential trajectories of the supply of multiple ecosystem services with shifting land use. Such information is critical for revealing mechanisms underpinning these interactions and improving sustainable landscape management for reliable provision of multiple ecosystem services.

Our research will explore alternative land-use scenarios to understand how landscape composition and configuration influence landscape resilience, how the delivery of ecosystem services varies across landscapes, and how land-use patterns will interact with projected changes in climate. Our focus is the Yahara Watershed of southern Wisconsin that drains an area of 996 km2 and includes five major lakes (Figure 1; Figure 2). Landscapes of the Yahara watershed include extensive croplands and a densely populated urban area, along with remnants of forest, grasslands and wetlands, all of which interact with freshwater ecosystems (Figure 3). As a watershed typical of the urbanizing agricultural Midwest, this watershed is an exemplary microcosm representative of a larger region.

Key Findings

Landscape analyses of spatial tradeoffs among different ecosystem services are in progress

Selected Publications

In progress


This research is part of an interdisciplinary project regarding Water Sustainability and Climate in the Yahara River watershed, supported by National Science Foundation.