Social and Ecological Transferability of Integrated Ecological Assessment Models

EPA Grant Number: R825757
Title: Social and Ecological Transferability of Integrated Ecological Assessment Models
Investigators: Deegan, Linda A. , Kremer, James , Webler, Thomas
Institution: Marine Biological Laboratory , Social and Environmental Research Institute , University of Connecticut
Current Institution: Marine Biological Laboratory , Social and Environmental Research Institute , University of Connecticut , Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution
EPA Project Officer: Hiscock, Michael
Project Period: June 1, 1998 through May 31, 2001
Project Amount: $850,575
RFA: Water and Watersheds Research (1997) RFA Text |  Recipients Lists
Research Category: Water , Water and Watersheds


This research project is designed to benefit to urban/suburban coastal communities interested in protecting estuarine ecosystems from nitrogen loading. Integrated ecological assessment models have the potential to improve the competence of local communities in making policy decisions. But only if they are accepted by the people involved in policy making.

Our objectives are to: 1) complete the development of a general integrated ecological assessment model for coastal watersheds, and 2) use this model in a series of experiments to determine how the level of familiarity and confidence in the model affects their acceptance of and willingness to use the model as a management tool.


Our approach is to build an integrated assessment model using an existing watershed N-loading model and extend an estuarine ecological model to include a new and socially important management endpoint - fish and shellfish. We will select new watersheds to corroborate the model and to be used in the social acceptance experiment. We will measure important end points (e.g., primary producer and fish stocks) in these estuaries. A unique aspect of this proposal is the opportunity to use data collected to test the ecological transferability of the model as a treatment in the social experiment by involving citizens in data collection.

Expected Results:

One of our most interesting results will be to explain how much gain in model acceptance is achieved by differing levels of training and familiarity. For instance, we will evaluate model acceptance among a presentation, a workshop, a workshop with dialog that has opportunities for the public to "cross-examine" the modelers, and a workshop that combines dialog with a lay monitoring program.

We will determine whether the developed model provides information that community policy makers fmd useful and relevant The relevance of the existing N-load model has been partially verified by application in one watershed. This project offers an opportunity to confirm that preliminary finding with a more systematic study. We will be able to evaluate the pre-existing awareness among policy-makers of the links between land-use and N-loading and the degree to which our model improves understanding of this issue.

This research will result in an integrated ecological model of the consequences of coastal land-use change on estuarine systems and, perhaps more importanfly, better information on how to apply that model in new environmental and social settings.

Publications and Presentations:

Publications have been submitted on this project: View all 67 publications for this project

Journal Articles:

Journal Articles have been submitted on this project: View all 12 journal articles for this project

Supplemental Keywords:

coastal, estuary, nitrogen, ecological assessment, watershed., RFA, Scientific Discipline, Water, Ecosystem Protection/Environmental Exposure & Risk, Hydrology, Water & Watershed, Monitoring/Modeling, Ecology and Ecosystems, Watersheds, Social Science, social science research, model-based analysis, coastal watershed, fish, community-based research, nitrogen inputs, integrated assessment, aquatic ecosystems, data collection, ecological risk, nutrient monitoring , integrated ecological assessment model, water quality, ecology assessment models, public policy, social transferability, ecological models, nutrient transport model

Progress and Final Reports:

  • 1998
  • 1999 Progress Report
  • Final Report