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A critical assessment of available ecosystem services data according to the Final Ecosystem Goods and Services framework
Tashie, A. AND P. Ringold. A critical assessment of available ecosystem services data according to the Final Ecosystem Goods and Services framework. Ecosphere. ESA Journals, 10(3):e02665., (2019). https://doi.org/10.1002/ecs2.2665
Final Ecosystem Goods and Services (FEGS) are biophysical features that matter to people directly. As such they are important units to use in communicating to publics and in benefits analyses. As one approach to determine how available such data are on an extensive basis we examined the presence of metrics of FEGS in the EnviroAtlas. We selected the EnviroAtlas because it has done a superb job of representing a large fraction of the extant ecological data that is both spatially explicit and extensively available. We found a large number of gaps between the data necessary to represent FEGS and the data that exist. The conclusion is that data collection programs need to be more cognizant of the need to collect FEGS data.
The last decade has seen a proliferation of studies describing the benefits people accrue from natural processes by translation of remotely sensed land use and / or land cover (LULC) data to ecosystem service provision. Yet, critical assessment of systemic errors resulting from reliance on data of this type is limited. Further, much of this data sits underutilized, beyond the narrow purview of specialists due to the failure to adopt a generally accepted and internally consistent ecosystem services framework amenable to use across disciplines. Here, we evaluate an extensive collection of ecosystem service-related data based on LULC according to a broadly applicable ecosystem service framework, the Final Ecosystem Goods and Services (FEGS) system, which views ecosystems from the perspective of the human beneficiaries of their biophysical features. In this examination, we create a database identifying over 14,000 linkages between 255 data layers from EnviroAtlas and FEGS beneficiaries. Through these linkages, we identify major gaps in beneficiary identification and systemic errors resulting from the utilization of translations from LULC data. Importantly, we find that for many beneficiaries there is an absence of data on FEGS at extensive scales in the United States. We provide a roadmap for the integration of extant ecosystem service research efforts using the FEGS classification scheme and critically appraise this scheme, highlighting inconsistent specification among beneficiary categories and the maleffects of delimiting ecosystem services by environmental class. We also explore the benefits of crosswalking different ecosystem service data and frameworks for researchers, by reducing the otherwise high buy-in cost of data exploration, and for data developers, by increasing the exposure of their work.