Deciphering land-use influences on boreal lakes to guide landscape planning.

Published online
02 Oct 2023
Content type
Journal article
Journal title
Ecological Solutions and Evidence

Heino, J. & Toivanen, M. & Alahuhta, J.
Contact email(s)

Publication language
Finland & Nordic Countries


Changes in natural land cover have been pronounced in the last 12,000 years, and land use has intensified in the last century owing to anthropogenic pressures on landscapes. This trend has led to concomitant changes in the abiotic templates and biotic communities of different ecosystems embedded in a landscape. Deciphering the role of land use is key to understand ecological change in boreal landscapes. These landscapes are characterized by large numbers of lakes that have been affected by various anthropogenic factors, of which land use has considerable direct and indirect effects on lakes. In this review, we focus on land use impacts on boreal lakes in a historical perspective. We will consider lake features related to abiotic conditions, biological communities and ecosystem services, and provide potential solutions for planning lake management and conservation in a landscape setting. More specifically, we propose a novel way to characterize lake abiotic, biotic and ecosystem service features by applying the alpha, beta and gamma concept used widely in ecological research. Finally, we highlight situations where this approach could be a valuable addition to existing means to identify lakes that should be reserved for ecosystem services ('lake-sharing') and those that are vital for protecting aquatic biodiversity ('lake-sparing').

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