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Journal of Arid Land  2023, Vol. 15 Issue (1): 1-19    DOI: 10.1007/s40333-022-0074-0
Research article     
Spatiotemporal characteristics and influencing factors of ecosystem services in Central Asia
YAN Xue1,2, LI Lanhai1,2,3,4,5,*()
1State Key Laboratory of Desert and Oasis Ecology, Xinjiang Institute of Ecology and Geography, Chinese Academy of Sciences, Urumqi 830011, China
2Ili Station for Watershed Ecosystem Research, Chinese Academy of Sciences, Xinyuan 835800, China
3CAS Research Centre for Ecology and Environment of Central Asia, Urumqi 830011, China
4Xinjiang Key Laboratory of Water Cycle and Utilization in Arid Zone, Urumqi 830011, China
5University of Chinese Academy of Sciences, Beijing 100049, China
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Land use/land cover (LULC) change and climate change are two major factors affecting the provision of ecosystem services which are closely related to human well-being. However, a clear understanding of the relationships between these two factors and ecosystem services in Central Asia is still lacking. This study aimed to comprehensively assess ecosystem services in Central Asia and analyze how they are impacted by changes in LULC and climate. The spatiotemporal patterns of three ecosystem services during the period of 2000-2015, namely the net primary productivity (NPP), water yield, and soil retention, were quantified and mapped by the Carnegie-Ames-Stanford Approach (CASA) model, Integrated Valuation of Ecosystem Services and Tradeoffs (InVEST) model, and Revised Universal Soil Loss Equation (RUSLE). Scenarios were used to determine the relative importance and combined effect of LULC change and climate change on ecosystem services. Then, the relationships between climate factors (precipitation and temperature) and ecosystem services, as well as between LULC change and ecosystem services, were further discussed. The results showed that the high values of ecosystem services appeared in the southeast of Central Asia. Among the six biomes (alpine forest region (AFR), alpine meadow region (AMR), typical steppe region (TSR), desert steppe region (DSR), desert region (DR), and lake region (LR)), the values of ecosystem services followed the order of AFR>AMR>TSR>DSR> DR>LR. In addition, the values of ecosystem services fluctuated during the period of 2000-2015, with the most significant decreases observed in the southeast mountainous area and northwest of Central Asia. LULC change had a greater impact on the NPP, while climate change had a stronger influence on the water yield and soil retention. The combined LULC change and climate change exhibited a significant synergistic effect on ecosystem services in most of Central Asia. Moreover, ecosystem services were more strongly and positively correlated with precipitation than with temperature. The greening of desert areas and forest land expansion could improve ecosystem services, but unreasonable development of cropland and urbanization have had an adverse impact on ecosystem services. According to the results, ecological stability in Central Asia can be achieved through the natural vegetation protection, reasonable urbanization, and ecological agriculture development.

Key wordsecosystem services      land use/land cover change      climate change      net primary productivity      water yield      soil retention      Central Asia     
Received: 30 March 2022      Published: 31 January 2023
Corresponding Authors: *LI Lanhai (E-mail:
Cite this article:

YAN Xue, LI Lanhai. Spatiotemporal characteristics and influencing factors of ecosystem services in Central Asia. Journal of Arid Land, 2023, 15(1): 1-19.

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Fig. 1 Spatial patterns of elevation (a) and six biomes (b) in Central Asia. AFR, alpine forest region; AMR, alpine meadow region; TSR, typical steppe region; DSR, desert steppe region; DR, desert region; LR, lake region.
Fig. 2 Spatial distributions of the average annual temperature (a) and average annual precipitation (b) during the period of 2000-2015 in Central Asia
Fig. 3 Trends of the annual average temperature (a) and annual precipitation (b) during the period of 2000-2015 in each biome of Central Asia
Rainfed cropland Irrigated
Grassland Forest
2000 Rainfed cropland 373,662.88 3.38 4245.69 753.74 920.47 146.07 57.86
Irrigated cropland 0.00 232,996.33 1618.22 101.45 3482.09 124.18 19.91
Grassland 14,634.09 5773.17 2,224,851.37 3394.54 1759.50 3395.67 264.15
Forest land 176.22 121.93 1453.65 67,103.45 23.01 12.96 85.01
Urban land 0.00 0.00 0.00 0.00 3161.58 0.00 0.00
Bare land 195.57 2298.41 56,069.34 48.19 177.44 962,453.34 621.10
Water body 187.12 137.05 2143.70 440.84 3.76 19,614.26 104,579.04
Table 1 Land use/land cover (LULC) conversion matrix from 2000 to 2015 in Central Asia (unit: km2)
Fig. 4 Spatial patterns of land use/land cover (LULC) in 2000 (a) and 2015 (b) in Central Asia
Fig. 5 Spatial patterns of the NPP (a, b), water yield (d, e), and soil retention (g, h) in 2000 and 2015, as well as their changes between 2000 and 2015 (c, NPP; f, water yield; i, soil retention) in Central Asia. NPP, net primary productivity.
Fig. 6 Spatial distributions of relative importance of LULC change and climate change on the NPP (a), water yield (b), and soil retention (c) during the period of 2000-2015 in Central Asia
Fig. 7 Spatial distributions of the combined effect of LULC change and climate change on the NPP (a), water yield (b), and soil retention (c) during the period of 2000-2015 in Central Asia
NPP Water yield Soil retention Precipitation
Water yield 1.00**
Soil retention 1.00** 1.00**
Precipitation 1.00** 1.00** 1.00**
Temperature -0.54 -0.54 -0.54 -0.54
Table 2 Correlation coefficients among the NPP, water yield, soil retention, precipitation, and temperature at the biome scale in Central Asia
Fig. 8 Partial correlations of the NPP with temperature (a) and precipitation (b), partial correlations of water yield with temperature (c) and precipitation (d), and simple correlation between soil retention and temperature (e)
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