Environmental Science and Pollution Research

, Volume 26, Issue 10, pp 10219–10229 | Cite as

Analyzing ecosystem services of freshwater lakes and their driving forces: the case of Erhai Lake, China

  • Shaozhuo Zhong
  • Yong GengEmail author
  • Yiying Qian
  • Wei Chen
  • Hengyu Pan
Research Article


Freshwater lakes provide critical ecological services to the local ecosystem. However, many of them are facing serious challenges, such as ecosystem degradation and water contamination, due to irrational water utilization and a lack of effective management. Under such a circumstance, it is crucial to examine the ecosystem services of freshwater lakes and uncover the driving forces so that appropriate protection policies can be raised. This study aims to fill such a research gap by employing an emergy accounting method. A case study of Erhai Lake (the second largest freshwater lake in Yunnan province, southwest China) was conducted for the period of 2001–2015. Driving forces that affect ecosystem services were analyzed by using Logarithmic Mean Divisia Index (LMDI). Results show that the total ecosystem services of Erhai Lake were reduced from 334.03E + 18 sej in 2001 to 274.37E + 18 sej in 2015. This was caused by the obvious decline of regulating services and supporting services, far exceeding the increase of provisioning services and cultural services. In 2015, two types of increased services that benefit human life in the market became the primary services of Erhai Lake. And their proportions were far beyond the two reduced ones that were overlooked due to their public and free attributes. The key driving forces include economic scale factor (∆EES), the fast and intensive economic activities. This development was at the cost of environmental degradation based upon the analysis of emergy benefit factor (∆EEB). Finally, several suggestions are presented. This study provides valuable insights to understand ecosystem services of freshwater lakes so that a sustainable development pathway can be found to protect such freshwater lakes.


Ecosystem services Driving forces Emergy Erhai Lake Governance 


Funding information

This study is funded by the National Natural Science Foundation of China [grant numbers 71690241, 71810107001], the Fundamental Research Funds for the Central Universities through Shanghai Jiao Tong University [grant number 16JCCS04], the Shanghai Municipal Government [grant number 17XD1401800], the Mitchell Bruce Academician Work Station sponsored by both Yunnan Province and Dali Prefecture, and the Yunnan Provincial Research Academy of Environmental Science.

Supplementary material

11356_2019_4476_MOESM1_ESM.docx (21 kb)
ESM 1 (DOCX 20 kb)


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Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag GmbH Germany, part of Springer Nature 2019

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.School of Environmental Science and EngineeringShanghai Jiao Tong UniversityShanghaiChina
  2. 2.China Institute for Urban GovernanceShanghai Jiao Tong UniversityShanghaiChina
  3. 3.Shanghai Institute of Pollution Control and Ecological SecurityShanghaiChina

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