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Mapping ecosystem service indicators in a Great Lakes estuarine Area of Concern
Angradi, T., J. Launspach, Dave Bolgrien, B. Bellinger, M. Starry, J. Hoffman, A. Trebitz, M. Sierszen, AND T. Hollenhorst. Mapping ecosystem service indicators in a Great Lakes estuarine Area of Concern. JOURNAL OF GREAT LAKES RESEARCH. International Association for Great Lakes Research, Ann Arbor, MI, 42(3):717-727, (2016).
This paper demonstrates how ecosystem service mapping and assessment can be used by local communities in support of decisionmaking. This paper is the first to describe this approach for Great Lakes coastal communities.
Estuaries provide multiple ecosystem services from which humans benefit. Currently, thirty-six Great Lakes estuaries in the United States and Canada are designated as Areas of Concern (AOCs) due to a legacy of chemical contamination, degraded habitat, and non-point-source pollution. For an AOC to be delist it is generally necessary to restore aquatic habitat, among other actions. Ecosystem services mapping and assessment can inform AOC restoration and management. We describe an approach, with examples, for assessing how local-scale actions affect the extent and distribution of coastal ecosystem services, using the St. Louis River estuary (SLRE) of western Lake Superior as a case study. We based our approach on simple models applied to spatially explicit biophysical data that allow us to map the providing area of ecosystem services at high resolution (10-m2 pixel) across aquatic and riparian habitats. We mapped 26 services in the SLRE (e.g., views, power boating, sailing, shore and boat fishing, hunting, trapping, park, trail, and beach recreation, flood protection, wild rice, wildlife populations, nutrient processing, cultural resources). Most aquatic pixel locations had 58 overlapping services; riparian locations had fewer mapped services. Mean service richness varied more with depth than geographically across the estuary. To examine tradeoffs in services associated with management action, we quantified the changes in the area of the AOC providing each ecosystem service for a set of scenarios based on planned habitat restoration projects. Aspects of our approach can be adapted by communities for use in support of local decision-making.