Science Inventory

Developing ecosystem services-based assessment endpoints for determining ecological risks to estuarine environments

Citation:

Barron, M., Steve Jordan, L. Martin, W. Munns, A. Rea, AND G. Suter. Developing ecosystem services-based assessment endpoints for determining ecological risks to estuarine environments. Presented at CERF 2013, San Diego, CA, November 03 - 07, 2013.

Impact/Purpose:

To improve ecological risk assessment guidance through incorporation of ecosystem services into generic ecological assessment endpoint guidance.

Description:

Current U.S. EPA ecological risk assessment (ERA) guidance defines an assessment endpoint (AE) as an explicit expression of the environmental value that is to be protected, and recommends that AEs are selected based on ecological relevance, susceptibility to known or potential stressors, and relevance to management goals. Assessment endpoints consist of the entity to be protected (e.g., harlequin ducks) and an important attribute (e.g., nesting habitat availability), and should reflect management goals and represent measureable ecosystem characteristics. Typical AEs used in the assessment of risks and impacts to estuarine areas include population and community-level entities with attributes of survival, abundance and production of plants, invertebrates and fishes. The U.S. EPA is extending existing AE guidance to ecological outputs that benefit humans and that are not typically included in ERA, including production of food and drinking water, purification of air and water, pollination, and nutrient cycling. The supplemental guidance is organized according to seven categories of environmental values: consumptive, informational, functional/structural, recreational, educational, option, and existence values. The inclusion of ecosystem services-based AEs is intended to improve the value of ERA for environmental decision making. For example, the benefits of protection or remediation in coastal and estuarine systems can be cast in terms of the contributions to human well being through quantification of the changes in ecosystem services. Application of ecosystem services-based AEs in coastal and estuarine assessments can also provide an improved means of communicating risks because changes in the endpoints directly or indirectly benefit humans.

Record Details:

Record Type: DOCUMENT (PRESENTATION/SLIDE)
Product Published Date: 11/07/2013
Record Last Revised: 11/14/2013
OMB Category: Other
Record ID: 262940

Organization:

U.S. ENVIRONMENTAL PROTECTION AGENCY

OFFICE OF RESEARCH AND DEVELOPMENT

NATIONAL HEALTH AND ENVIRONMENTAL EFFECTS RESEARCH LABORATORY

GULF ECOLOGY DIVISION