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Determining preferences for ecosystem benefits in Great Lakes Areas of Concern from photographs posted to social media
Angradi, T., J. Launspach, AND R. Debbout. Determining preferences for ecosystem benefits in Great Lakes Areas of Concern from photographs posted to social media. JOURNAL OF GREAT LAKES RESEARCH. International Association for Great Lakes Research, Ann Arbor, MI, 44(2):340-351, (2018).
The data and information in this publication are directly relevant to the management of Great Lakes Areas of Concern. EPA and other scientists, including social scientists, can use or facilitate the use of this approach for increasing the likelihood of positive social outcomes from AOC restoration projects.
Relative valuation of potentially affected ecosystem benefits can increase the legitimacy and social acceptance of ecosystem restoration projects. As an alternative or supplement to traditional methods of deriving beneficiary preference, we downloaded from social media and classified 21,000 photographs taken in two Great Lakes Areas of Concern (AOC); the St. Louis River and the Milwaukee Estuary. Our motivating presumption was that the act of taking a photograph constitutes some measure of the photographer’s individual preference for, or choice of, the depicted subject matter among all the other possible subject matter. Overall, 17% of photos downloaded from the photo-sharing sites Flickr, Instagram, and Panoramio depicted an ecosystem service or benefit in the AOC. Percent of images depicting a service or benefit and their subject matter varied between AOCs and among photo-sharing sites. Photos shared on Instagram were less user-gender biased than other photo-sharing sites and depicted active recreation (e.g., trail use) more frequently. Local users shared more photos depicting services or benefit than non-local users. The spatial distribution of photograph locations varied between photos depicting and not depicting a service or benefit, and identified areas within AOCs from which few photographs were shared. As a source of beneficiary preference information, we think Instagram has some advantages over the other photo-sharing sites. When combined with other information, spatially-explicit relative valuation derived from aggregate preference can be translated into information and knowledge useful for restoration decision making.