Ecosystem Services Research Program (ESRP) Albemarle-Pamlico Watershed and Estuary Study (APWES) Research Plan
RASHLEIGH, B., D. J. KEITH, D. J. WILLIAMS, D. R. MANGIS, D. B. SCHWEDE, L. D. WORTHY, J. S. IIAMES, K. Pugh, AND S. C. MCCUTCHEON. Ecosystem Services Research Program (ESRP) Albemarle-Pamlico Watershed and Estuary Study (APWES) Research Plan. U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, Washington, DC, EPA/600/R-10/180 (NTIS PB2011-105281), 2010.
The APWES is a place-based study for the U.S. EPA Ecosystem Services Research Program conducted through the collaboration across the EPA Office of Research and Development. The mission of the APWES is to develop ecosystem services science to inform watershed and coastal management decisions in the Albemarle-Pamlico watershed and estuary in North Carolina and Virginia. Over the next three years (2011 to 2014), the study will apply analysis of seven ecosystem services (clean air; clean water; climate resilience; flood and storm protection; food, fiber, and fuel; recreation; and biodiversity) to these management decisions. This study uses a systems approach to address the drivers, pressures, state, ecosystem services, and management decisions in the Albemarle-Pamlico watershed and estuary. APWES research will be conducted according to three goals: 1) mapping and monitoring, 2) modeling, and 3) decision support. First, mapping and monitoring projects will develop methods to quantify ecosystem services, as well as drivers and pressures to the system. Results will lead to an assessment of ecosystem services, and support modeling efforts. Second, modeling will be used to relate changes in drivers and pressures to changes in ecosystem services. This research will include empirical and mechanistic modeling for the air, watershed, and estuary, informed by mapping and monitoring, and the linkage of models within modeling frameworks. Third, decision support tools will be developed to understand how management decisions alter services, so that quantified services can be used to inform watershed and estuary management decisions. For this goal, decision alternatives developed with stakeholder input and decision support tools, including an interactive web-based software application and Bayesian networks, will be developed and applied at multiple scales. Ecosystem services will be used to inform decisions in the Albemarle-Pamlico watershed and estuary –the study will focus primarily on decisions related to EPA regulatory authority in air quality, wetlands, and water quality, and the related issue of water quantity. Tools developed for this work can also inform decisions related to reservoir management, species conservation, and climate adaptation. The APWES will examine tradeoffs or synergies among services under alternative management decisions, and seeks to understand how ecosystems can be managed sustainably for ecosystem protection and economic benefit. This study can also serve as a regional pilot for EPA Sustainable and Healthy Communities Research Program, to understand how the natural and built environments interact to affect community well-being and sustainability.