Integrated Ecological Economic Modeling and Valuation of Watersheds

EPA Grant Number: R824766
Title: Integrated Ecological Economic Modeling and Valuation of Watersheds
Investigators: Costanza, Robert
Current Investigators: Costanza, Robert , Boumans, Roelof , Maxwell, Thomas , Villa, Ferdinando , Voinov, Alexey , Voinov, Helena , Wainger, Lisa
Institution: University of Maryland Center for Environmental Science
EPA Project Officer: Hiscock, Michael
Project Period: November 1, 1995 through November 1, 1998
Project Amount: $1,000,000
RFA: Water and Watersheds (1995) Recipients Lists
Research Category: Water and Watersheds , Water


A regional, spatially-distributed, ecological economic model is being developed to evaluate the driving forces and the ecological consequences of land use change. This project is aimed at linking ecological dynamics with human activities to understand and enhance prediction of ecosystem effects from human activities and to understand the feedbacks from the ecosystem to the economy.

The spatially explicit ecosystem simulation model, which synthesizes process-based and empirical information, tracks the interconnected dynamics of water, nutrients, toxins, and biotic components and links those processes to human actions on the landscape. The model considers outcomes from land use conversion, farming practices, development styles, and other human-induced and natural processes. The temporal and spatial detail allows the comprehensive study of the influence of spatial arrangement of land and land management practices on water quality, habitat, and other ecosystem services.

Methods for understanding the changes in ecosystem model performance as temporal or spatial scale increases are being actively investigated. For example, structural alterations and parameter rescaling methods to compensate for the lost spatial variability under lower spatial resolution are being evaluated. These experiments may lead to model aggregation methods that can facilitate model implementation in data-poor areas.

The principal aims of the economic land use change model are to empirically estimate how landscape features affect land value in alternative uses and how these values and other factors affect the likelihood of land use conversion. Results from these empirical models allow us to predict changes in land use patterns under different policy scenarios.

The overall project goal is to provide for effective ecosystem management at the watershed scale by creating a dynamically linked ecological economic model which will be made available to resource managers. A new spatial modeling environment is being implemented which adds functionality for data processing, model development, and result visualization for users with varying backgrounds. This new infrastructure has the potential to open the simulation arena to a wider set of participants, and facilitate application of computer modeling to the study of complex multi-scale processes in support of ecologically sound and adaptable policy-making.

Publications and Presentations:

Publications have been submitted on this project: View all 79 publications for this project

Journal Articles:

Journal Articles have been submitted on this project: View all 16 journal articles for this project

Supplemental Keywords:

water, watershed, land, estuary, ecosystem, indicators, scaling, terrestrial, aquatic, habitat, socio-economic, social science, ecology, modeling, remote sensing, Chesapeake Bay, midatlantic, Maryland, MD, Region 3., RFA, Economic, Social, & Behavioral Science Research Program, Scientific Discipline, Geographic Area, Water, Ecosystem Protection/Environmental Exposure & Risk, Hydrology, Ecology, Water & Watershed, exploratory research environmental biology, Ecosystem/Assessment/Indicators, Chemical Mixtures - Environmental Exposure & Risk, Ecosystem Protection, State, Economics, Ecological Effects - Environmental Exposure & Risk, Ecological Effects - Human Health, decision-making, EPA Region, Social Science, Watersheds, Economics & Decision Making, Ecological Indicators, ecosystem valuation, remote sensing, risk assessment, biodiversity option values, valuation, valuation of watersheds, watershed, human activities, model aggregation methods, Region 3, Maryland (MD), aquatic ecosystems, water quality, regional scale model, land use

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Progress and Final Reports:

  • 1996
  • 1997
  • Final Report