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Comparison of methods for quantifying reef ecosystem services: a case study mapping services for St. Croix, USVI
Yee, S., J. Dittmar, AND L. Oliver. Comparison of methods for quantifying reef ecosystem services: a case study mapping services for St. Croix, USVI. Ecosystem Services. Elsevier Online, New York, NY, 8:1-15, (2014).
In coastal communities, stresses derived from landuse changes, climate change, and serial over-exploitation can have major effects on coral reefs, which support multibillion dollar fishing and tourism industries vital to regional economies. A key challenge in evaluating coastal and watershed management decisions is that scientific modeling and monitoring efforts are largely focused on reef condition, yet decision-maker or stakeholder concerns may be more appropriately quantified by social and economic metrics. To better evaluate the potential socio-economic tradeoffs from coastal and watershed decisions, there is an urgent need for predictive models to quantitatively link ecological condition of coral reefs to provisioning of reef ecosystem goods and services. We investigated the feasibility of using existing methods, derived from a recent literature review, for quantifying production of reef ecosystem goods and services, including ecological integrity, shoreline protection, recreational opportunities, fisheries production, and the potential for natural products discovery. Methods were applied to mapping potential ecosystem services production around St. Croix, U.S. Virgin Islands. Overall, we found that a number of different methods for quantifying a particular service (e.g., recreational opportunities) produced similar predictions. In general, areas that were high in ecological integrity tended to be high in other ecosystem services, including the potential for recreation, natural products discovery, and fisheries production, but not necessarily shoreline protection. Undoubtedly, existing methods could be improved with field monitoring to target key indicators of ecosystem services or through the development of new methods more directly linking condition to provisioning of services. However, existing data and methods can be applied for making relative comparisons of ecosystem service provisioning under different levels of reef condition, such as along a human disturbance gradient. Quantitative methods linking reef condition to ecosystem goods and services can aid in highlighting the social and economic relevance of reefs, and is essential information to more completely characterize, model, and map the trade-offs inherent in decision options.
We review and compare a number of existing methods for quantifying production of ecosystem goods and services by coral reefs. Methods are applied toward mapping ecosystem services production in St. Croix, USVI.
Record Details:Record Type: DOCUMENT (JOURNAL/PEER REVIEWED JOURNAL)
Organization:U.S. ENVIRONMENTAL PROTECTION AGENCY
OFFICE OF RESEARCH AND DEVELOPMENT
NATIONAL HEALTH AND ENVIRONMENTAL EFFECTS RESEARCH LAB
GULF ECOLOGY DIVISION