Improved Valuation of Ecological Benefits Associated with Aquatic Living Resources: Development and Testing of Indicator-Based Stated Preference Valuation and Transfer

EPA Grant Number: R832420
Title: Improved Valuation of Ecological Benefits Associated with Aquatic Living Resources: Development and Testing of Indicator-Based Stated Preference Valuation and Transfer
Investigators: Johnston, Robert J. , Besedin, Elena , Schultz, Eric , Segerson, Kathleen
Institution: University of Connecticut , Abt Associates
Current Institution: University of Connecticut
EPA Project Officer: Hahn, Intaek
Project Period: October 1, 2005 through September 30, 2008
Project Amount: $405,154
RFA: Valuation for Environmental Policy (2004) RFA Text |  Recipients Lists
Research Category: Economics and Decision Sciences


The proposed work will develop and test Indicator-Based Stated Preference Valuation for aquatic living resources and assess implications for benefits transfer. It addresses (1) improved valuation of ecological benefits of aquatic resources and (2) benefit transfer for ecological resources.

Objective 1: Integrate ecological models, economic theory, and qualitative research to develop candidate indicators of aquatic living resources for use in valuation surveys, as a foundation for indicator-based stated preference valuation and transfer.

Objective 2: Develop choice experiment surveys to systematically test indicator-based valuation methods, models and results, including

  1. qualitative assessments,
  2. quantitative hypothesis tests,
  3. experimental tests relative to provision of exogenous ecological information,
  4. assessment of implications for benefits assessment.

Objective 3: Assess implications for indicator-based benefits transfer:

  1. contrast performance, hypothesis tests, and benefit estimates across fresh/salt water case studies to assess transferability of indicators and benefit functions;
  2. using indicator-based estimates, assess convergent validity of prior large-scale benefit transfers.

Objective 4: Develop transferable templates and guidelines for indicator-based stated preference (SP) valuation of aquatic living resources.


Phase I will integrate economic and ecological models to develop indicators to communicate baselines and change in aquatic living resource assessment endpoints within SP surveys and models linking indicators to endpoints. Subsequent qualitative assessments to refine indicators will include interviews, focus groups (with/without paired ecological presentations), and verbal protocols.

Phase II will develop and implement choice experiment models and survey methods for indicator-based valuation. Results, including those derived from implementation in controlled experimental settings, will be used test hypotheses related to indicator performance and benefit estimation in case studies (e.g., Narragansett Bay; Hudson River).

Phase III will assess transferability of indicator-based results/methods, and compare benefit estimates to those from prior large-scale benefit transfers.

Phase IV will draw from prior phases to develop templates and guidelines for indicator-based SP valuation and identify calibrations necessary for application to other policy contexts.

Expected Results:

In addition to development and systematic qualitative/quantitative testing of indicator-based valuation for aquatic living resources, the proposed work will improve interdisciplinary mechanisms to model and communicate aquatic ecosystem change within SP valuation—an area currently dominated by ad hoc approaches. Indicator-based methods will be designed for broad applicability and to improve the validity and accuracy of use/nonuse benefit estimation for salt and freshwater ecosystems. Developed methods will be differentiated from existing approaches by a formal basis in established ecological indicators; integrated economic/ecological models linking measurable policy outcomes (i.e., indicators) to welfare-relevant attributes; and evidence that indicators unambiguously communicate applicable ecological baselines/change. This research will also provide a unique opportunity to assess the role of ecological indicators in benefit transfer, and the validity of small and large-scale benefit transfers associated with aquatic living resources.

Publications and Presentations:

Publications have been submitted on this project: View all 7 publications for this project

Supplemental Keywords:

ecology, economic, non-market valuation, benefit-cost, willingness to pay, contingent valuation,, RFA, Scientific Discipline, Economic, Social, & Behavioral Science Research Program, decision-making, Ecology and Ecosystems, Social Science, Economics & Decision Making, benefits transfer, contingent valuation, ecosystem valuation, valuation, decision analysis, decision making, environmental decision making, environmental priorities, indicator based stated preference valuation, environmental values, environmental policy, aquatic resources, comparative study, stated preference, willingness to pay

Progress and Final Reports:

  • 2006
  • 2007 Progress Report
  • Final