Relevance of Intermittent Rivers and Streams in Agricultural Landscape and Their Impact on Provided Ecosystem Services-A Mediterranean Case Study

Int J Environ Res Public Health. 2019 Jul 28;16(15):2693. doi: 10.3390/ijerph16152693.


Ecosystem services (ES), as an interconnection of the landscape mosaic pieces, along with temporal rivers (IRES) are an object of research for environmental planners and ecological economists, among other specialists. This study presents (i) a review on the importance of IRES and the services they can provide to agricultural landscapes; (ii) a classification tool to assess the impact of IRES to provide ES by agricultural landscapes; (iii) the application of the proposed classification to the Caia River in order to identify the importance of this intermittent river for its surrounding agricultural landscape. The classification of the ES follows the Common International Classification of Ecosystem (CICES) classification that was adapted for the purposes of this study. Firstly, the list of ES provided by agricultural landscape was elaborated. In the next step, we assessed the potential of IRES to provide ES. Next, IRES impacts to ES within the agricultural landscape were evaluated according to observations from the conducted field monitoring in the study area. This study focuses on the relevance of the intermittent Caia River-a transboundary river in Spain and Portugal-and its ephemeral tributaries in the agricultural landscape. Our study estimates that each hydrological phase of IRES increases the ES provided by the agricultural landscape. However, the dry phase can potentially have negative impacts on several services. The intensification of the agricultural sector is the main provision of the water resource within the Caia River basin, but we were able to identify several other ES that were positively impacted. The present study is in line with the conclusions of other authors who state that IRES constitute a valuable resource which should not be underestimated by society.

Keywords: Caia River; Iberian territories; agricultural landscapes; ecosystem services; temporal rivers and streams.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Agriculture*
  • Ecosystem*
  • Hydrology
  • Portugal
  • Rivers*
  • Spain
  • Water Resources*