Assessing ecosystem services of mountain lakes




Freshwater, Participatory, Perceptions, Global change, Valuation, European Alps


From global to local scales, human-induced environmental changes can impact mountain lakes by, for example, altering species composition, trophic state, and thermal dynamics, thereby affecting ecosystem functions and processes. However, the consequences of these changes on ecosystem services (ES) of mountain lakes are unclear due to a lack of integrative assessments. Therefore, this dissertation adopts an interdisciplinary ES perspective to improve insight into human interactions with mountain lakes and the potential social and ecological impacts of anthropogenic pressures on them. Stakeholder consultations highlighted the importance of regulating, cultural, and provisioning ES of natural mountain lakes, emphasizing habitat, aesthetics, recreation, education and research, and surface water, with nature-based experiences as being a key aspect of human interaction with mountain lakes. Multiple indicators were proposed to quantify potential supply of these ES, revealing variations among case study lakes in the European Alps. These results informed an integrative valuation approach and exposure assessment to anthropogenic pressures, suggesting that ES by mountain lakes are sensitive to climate change-related and human use pressures. Overall, the findings advance a social-ecological understanding of mountain lakes and indicate towards the need for adaptive lake management to maintain ES under potential anthropogenic pressure.


Angradi, T. R., Ringold, P. L., & Hall, K. (2018). Water clarity measures as indicators of recreational benefits provided by U.S. lakes: Swimming and aesthetics. Ecological Indicators, 93, 1005–1019.

Bennett, N. J. (2016). Using perceptions as evidence to improve conservation and environmental management. Conservation Biology, 30(3), 582–592.

Biggs, J., von Fumetti, S., & Kelly-Quinn, M. (2017). The importance of small waterbodies for biodiversity and ecosystem services: implications for policy makers. Hydrobiologia, 793(1), 3–39.

Brunner, M. I., Gurung, A. B., Zappa, M., Zekollari, H., Farinotti, D., & Stähli, M. (2019). Present and future water scarcity in Switzerland: Potential for alleviation through reservoirs and lakes. Science of the Total Environment, 666, 1033–1047.

Caldwell, T. J., Chandra, S., Albright, T. P., Harpold, A. A., Dilts, T. E., Greenberg, J. A., Sadro, S., & Dettinger, M. D. (2021). Drivers and projections of ice phenology in mountain lakes in the western United States. Limnology and Oceanography, 66(3), 995–1008.

Carpenter, S. R., Mooney, H. A., Agard, J., Capistrano, D., DeFries, R. S., Díaz, S., Dietz, T., Duraiappah, A. K., Oteng-Yeboah, A., Pereira, H. M., Perrings, C., Reid, W. V., Sarukhan, J., Scholes, R. J., & Whyte, A. (2009). Science for managing ecosystem services: Beyond the Millennium Ecosystem Assessment. Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, 106(5), 1305–1312.

Carpenter, S. R., Stanley, E. H., & Vander Zanden, M. J. (2011). State of the World's Freshwater Ecosystems: Physical, Chemical, and Biological Changes. Annual Review of Environment and Resources, 36, 75–99.

Castro-Pardo, M. de, Fernández Martínez, P., Pérez Zabaleta, A., & Azevedo, J. C. (2021). Dealing with Water Conflicts: A Comprehensive Review of MCDM Approaches to Manage Freshwater Ecosystem Services. Land, 10(5), Article 469.

Chan, K. M. A., Satterfield, T., & Goldstein, J. (2012). Rethinking ecosystem services to better address and navigate cultural values. Ecological Economics, 74, 8–18.

Cheng, X., van Damme, S., Li, L., & Uyttenhove, P. (2019). Evaluation of cultural ecosystem services: A review of methods. Ecosystem Services, 37, Article 100925.

Chiapella, A. M., Nielsen-Pincus, M., & Strecker, A. L. (2018). Public perceptions of mountain lake fisheries management in national parks. Journal of Environmental Management, 226, 169–179.

Ebner, M. (2022). Assessing ecosystem services of mountain lakes: An integrative approach to link socio-cultural perspectives, multi-metric indicators, and global change pressure [Doctoral Thesis, Faculty of Biology - Universität Innsbruck].

Ebner, M., Fontana, V., Schirpke, U., & Tappeiner, U. (2022a). Stakeholder perspectives on ecosystem services of mountain lakes in the European Alps. Ecosystem Services, 53, Article 101386.

Ebner, M., Schirpke, U., & Tappeiner, U. (2022b). Combining multiple socio-cultural approaches–Deeper insights into cultural ecosystem services of mountain lakes? Landscape and Urban Planning, 228, Article 104549.

Ebner, M., Schirpke, U., & Tappeiner, U. (2022c). How do anthropogenic pressures affect the provision of ecosystem services of small mountain lakes? Anthropocene, 38, Article 100336.

Feld, C. K., Da Martins Silva, P., Paulo Sousa, J., Bello, F. de, Bugter, R., Grandin, U., Hering, D., Lavorel, S., Mountford, O., & Pardo, I. (2009). Indicators of biodiversity and ecosystem services: a synthesis across ecosystems and spatial scales. Oikos, 118(12), 1862–1871.

Fontana, V., Ebner, M., Schirpke, U., Ohndorf, M., Pritsch, H., Tappeiner, U., & Kurmayer, R. (2023). An integrative approach to evaluate ecosystem services of mountain lakes using multi-criteria decision analysis. Ecological Economics, 204A, Article 107678.

Grizzetti, B., Lanzanova, D., Liquete, C., Reynaud, A., & Cardoso, A. C. (2016). Assessing water ecosystem services for water resource management. Environmental Science & Policy, 61, 194–203.

Haines-Young, R., & Potschin, M. B. (2018). Common international classification of ecosystem services (CICES) V5. 1 and guidance on the application of the revised structure. Nottingham: Fabis Consulting Ltd.

Heino, J., Alahuhta, J., Bini, L. M., Cai, Y., Heiskanen, A.‑S., Hellsten, S., Kortelainen, P., Kotamäki, N., Tolonen, K. T., Vihervaara, P., Vilmi, A., & Angeler, D. (2021). Lakes in the era of global change: moving beyond single‐lake thinking in maintaining biodiversity and ecosystem services. Biological Reviews, 96(1), 89–106.

Ho, L. T., & Goethals, P. L. M. (2019). Opportunities and challenges for the sustainability of lakes and reservoirs in relation to the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). Water, 11(7), Article 1462, Article 1462.

Hossu, C. A., Iojă, I.‑C., Onose, D. A., Niță, M. R., Popa, A.‑M., Talabă, O., & Inostroza, L. (2019). Ecosystem services appreciation of urban lakes in Romania. Synergies and trade-offs between multiple users. Ecosystem Services, 37, Article 100937.

Hundey, E. J., Russell, S. D., Longstaffe, F. J., & Moser, K. A. (2016). Agriculture causes nitrate fertilization of remote alpine lakes. Nature Communications, 7(1), Article 10571.

Jacobs, S., Dendoncker, N., Martín-López, B., Barton, D. N., Gómez-Baggethun, E., Boeraeve, F., McGrath, F. L., Vierikko, K., Geneletti, D., Sevecke, K. J., Pipart, N., Primmer, E., Mederly, P., Schmidt, S., Aragão, A., Baral, H., Bark, R. H., Briceno, T., Brogna, D., . . . Washbourne, C.‑L. (2016). A new valuation school: Integrating diverse values of nature in resource and land use decisions. Ecosystem Services, 22, 213–220.

Langemeyer, J., Gómez-Baggethun, E., Haase, D., Scheuer, S., & Elmqvist, T. (2016). Bridging the gap between ecosystem service assessments and land-use planning through Multi-Criteria Decision Analysis (MCDA). Environmental Science & Policy, 62, 45–56.

Martínez-López, J., Teixeira, H., Morgado, M., Almagro, M., Sousa, A. I., Villa, F., Balbi, S., Genua-Olmedo, A., Nogueira, A. J. A., & Lillebø, A. I. (2019). Participatory coastal management through elicitation of ecosystem service preferences and modelling driven by “coastal squeeze”. Science of the Total Environment, 652, 1113–1128.

Marttunen, M., Mustajoki, J., Lehtoranta, V., & Saarikoski, H. (2022). Complementary use of the Ecosystem Service Concept and Multi-criteria Decision Analysis in Water Management. Environmental Management, 69(4), 719–734.

Millennium Ecosystem Assessment. (2005). Ecosystems and Human Well-being: Current State and Trends. Island Press, Washington, DC.

Moser, K. A., Baron, J. S., Brahney, J., Oleksy, I. A., Saros, J. E., Hundey, E. J., Sadro, S., Kopáček, J., Sommaruga, R., Kainz, M. J., Strecker, A. L., Chandra, S., Walters, D. M., Preston, D. L., Michelutti, N., Lepori, F., Spaulding, S. A., Christianson, K. R., Melack, J. M., & Smol, J. P. (2019). Mountain lakes: Eyes on global environmental change. Global and Planetary Change, 178, 77–95.

Oleksy, I. A., Baron, J. S., Leavitt, P. R., & Spaulding, S. A. (2020). Nutrients and warming interact to force mountain lakes into unprecedented ecological states. Proceedings of the Royal Society B: Biological Sciences, 287(1930), Article 20200304.

Pepin, N., Bradley, R. S., Diaz, H. F., Baraer, M., Caceres, E. B., Forsythe, N., Fowler, H., Greenwood, G., Hashmi, M. Z., Liu, X. D., Miller, J. R., Ning, L., Ohmura, A., Palazzi, E., Rangwala, I., Schöner, W., Severskiy, I., Shahgedanova, M., Wang, M. B., . . . Yang, D. Q. (2015). Elevation-dependent warming in mountain regions of the world. Nature Climate Change, 5(5), 424–430.

Pröbstl-Haider, U., Hödl, C., Ginner, K., & Borgwardt, F. (2021). Climate change: Impacts on outdoor activities in the summer and shoulder seasons. Journal of Outdoor Recreation and Tourism, 34, Article 100344.

Reynaud, A., & Lanzanova, D. (2017). A global meta-analysis of the value of ecosystem services provided by lakes. Ecological Economics, 137, 184–194.

Roberts, J. J., Fausch, K. D., Schmidt, T. S., & Walters, D. M. (2017). Thermal regimes of Rocky Mountain lakes warm with climate change. PLoS ONE, 12(7), Article e0179498.

Rogora, M., Frate, L., Carranza, M. L., Freppaz, M., Stanisci, A., Bertani, I., Bottarin, R., Brambilla, A., Canullo, R., Carbognani, M., Cerrato, C., Chelli, S., Cremonese, E., Cutini, M., Di Musciano, M., Erschbamer, B., Godone, D., Iocchi, M., Isabellon, M., . . . Matteucci, G. (2018). Assessment of climate change effects on mountain ecosystems through a cross-site analysis in the Alps and Apennines. Science of the Total Environment, 624, 1429–1442.

Rounsevell, M. D., Dawson, T. P., & Harrison, P. A. (2010). A conceptual framework to assess the effects of environmental change on ecosystem services. Biodiversity and Conservation, 19(10), 2823–2842.

Saarikoski, H., Mustajoki, J., Barton, D. N., Geneletti, D., Langemeyer, J., Gómez-Baggethun, E., Marttunen, M., Antunes, P., Keune, H., & Santos, R. (2016). Multi-Criteria Decision Analysis and Cost-Benefit Analysis: Comparing alternative frameworks for integrated valuation of ecosystem services. Ecosystem Services, 22, 238–249.

Schirpke, U., & Ebner, M. (2022). Exposure to global change pressures and potential impacts on ecosystem services of mountain lakes in the European Alps. Journal of Environmental Management, 318, Article 115606.

Schirpke, U., Tasser, E., Ebner, M., & Tappeiner, U. (2021a). What can geotagged photographs tell us about cultural ecosystem services of lakes? Ecosystem Services, 51, Article 101354.

Schirpke, U., Ebner, M., Pritsch, H., Fontana, V., & Kurmayer, R. (2021b). Quantifying ecosystem services of high mountain lakes across different socio-ecological contexts. Sustainability, 13(11), Article 6051.

Schirpke, U., Scolozzi, R., & Tappeiner, U. (2022). Not too small to benefit society: insights into perceived cultural ecosystem services of mountain lakes in the European Alps. Ecology and Society, 27(1), Article 6.

Schirpke, U., Tappeiner, U., & Tasser, E. (2019). A transnational perspective of global and regional ecosystem service flows from and to mountain regions. Scientific Reports, 9(1), Article 6678.

Schmeller, D. S., Loyau, A., Bao, K., Brack, W., Chatzinotas, A., Vleeschouwer, F. de, Friesen, J., Gandois, L., Hansson, S. V., Haver, M., Le Roux, G., Shen, J., Teisserenc, R., & Vredenburg, V. T. (2018). People, pollution and pathogens–Global change impacts in mountain freshwater ecosystems. Science of the Total Environment, 622, 756–763.

Schmidt, K., Sachse, R., & Walz, A. (2016). Current role of social benefits in ecosystem service assessments. Landscape and Urban Planning, 149, 49–64.

Scholte, S. S. K., van Teeffelen, Astrid J. A., & Verburg, P. H. (2015). Integrating socio-cultural perspectives into ecosystem service valuation: a review of concepts and methods. Ecological Economics, 114, 67–78.

Senetra, A., Dynowski, P., Cieślak, I., & Źróbek-Sokolnik, A. (2020). An Evaluation of the Impact of Hiking Tourism on the Ecological Status of Alpine Lakes—A Case Study of the Valley of Dolina Pięciu Stawów Polskich in the Tatra Mountains. Sustainability, 12(7), Article 2963.

Sterner, R. W., Keeler, B. L., Polasky, S., Poudel, R., Rhude, K., & Rogers, M. (2020). Ecosystem services of Earth’s largest freshwater lakes. Ecosystem Services, 41, Article 101046.

Tasser, E., Schirpke, U., Zoderer, B. M., & Tappeiner, U. (2020). Towards an integrative assessment of land-use type values from the perspective of ecosystem services. Ecosystem Services, 42, Article 101082.

Tiberti, R., Buscaglia, F., Armodi, M., Callieri, C., Ribelli, F., Rogora, M., Tartari, G., & Bocca, M. (2020). Mountain lakes of Mont Avic Natural Park: ecological features and conservation issues: Mountain lakes of a natural park. Journal of Limnology, 79(1), 43–58.

Tiberti, R., Rogora, M., Tartari, G., & Callieri, C. (2014). Ecological impact of transhumance on the trophic state of alpine lakes in Gran Paradiso National Park. Knowledge and Management of Aquatic Ecosystems (415), Article 5.

van Colen, W., Mosquera, P. V., Hampel, H., & Muylaert, K. (2018). Link between cattle and the trophic status of tropical high mountain lakes in páramo grasslands in Ecuador. Lakes & Reservoirs: Science, Policy and Management for Sustainable Use, 23(4), 303–311.

Vári, Á., Podschun, S. A., Erős, T., Hein, T., Pataki, B., Iojă, I.‑C., Adamescu, C. M., Gerhardt, A., Gruber, T., Dedić, A., Ćirić, M., Gavrilović, B., & Báldi, A. (2022). Freshwater systems and ecosystem services: Challenges and chances for cross-fertilization of disciplines. Ambio, 51(1), 135–151.

Verpoorter, C., Kutser, T., Seekell, D. A., & Tranvik, L. J. (2014). A global inventory of lakes based on high-resolution satellite imagery. Geophysical Research Letters, 41(18), 6396–6402.

Walz, A., Schmidt, K., Ruiz-Frau, A., Nicholas, K. A., Bierry, A., de Vries Lentsch, A., Dyankov, A., Joyce, D., Liski, A. H., Marbà, N., Rosário, I. T., & Scholte, S. S. K. (2019). Sociocultural valuation of ecosystem services for operational ecosystem management: mapping applications by decision contexts in Europe. Regional Environmental Change, 19(8), 2245–2259.

Wang, B., Zhang, Q., & Cui, F. (2021). Scientific research on ecosystem services and human well-being: A bibliometric analysis. Ecological Indicators, 125, Article 107449.

Weckström, K., Weckström, J., Huber, K., Kamenik, C., Schmidt, R., Salvenmoser, W., Rieradevall, M., Weisse, T., Psenner, R., & Kurmayer, R. (2016). Impacts of climate warming on Alpine lake biota over the past decade. Arctic, Antarctic, and Alpine Research, 48(2), 361–376.

Zoderer, B. M., Tasser, E., Carver, S., & Tappeiner, U. (2019). Stakeholder perspectives on ecosystem service supply and ecosystem service demand bundles. Ecosystem Services, 37, Article 100938.

Title image LO.2024.1122




How to Cite

Ebner, M. (2024). Assessing ecosystem services of mountain lakes. Landscape Online, 99, 1122.