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Sensitivity analysis of ecosystem service valuation in a Mediterranean watershed

Sánchez-Canales, María, López Benito, Alfredo, Passuello, Ana, Terrado, Marta, Ziv, Guy, Acuña, Vicenç, Schuhmacher, Marta, Elorza, F. Javier
The Science of the total environment 2012 v.440 pp. 140-153
atmospheric precipitation, biodiversity, decision making, ecosystem services, ecosystems, evapotranspiration, models, natural capital, screening, subwatersheds, Mediterranean region, Spain
The services of natural ecosystems are clearly very important to our societies. In the last years, efforts to conserve and value ecosystem services have been fomented. By way of illustration, the Natural Capital Project integrates ecosystem services into everyday decision making around the world. This project has developed InVEST (a system for Integrated Valuation of Ecosystem Services and Tradeoffs). The InVEST model is a spatially integrated modelling tool that allows us to predict changes in ecosystem services, biodiversity conservation and commodity production levels. Here, InVEST model is applied to a stakeholder-defined scenario of land-use/land-cover change in a Mediterranean region basin (the Llobregat basin, Catalonia, Spain). Of all InVEST modules and sub-modules, only the behaviour of the water provisioning one is investigated in this article. The main novel aspect of this work is the sensitivity analysis (SA) carried out to the InVEST model in order to determine the variability of the model response when the values of three of its main coefficients: Z (seasonal precipitation distribution), prec (annual precipitation) and eto (annual evapotranspiration), change. The SA technique used here is a One-At-a-Time (OAT) screening method known as Morris method, applied over each one of the one hundred and fifty four sub-watersheds in which the Llobregat River basin is divided. As a result, this method provides three sensitivity indices for each one of the sub-watersheds under consideration, which are mapped to study how they are spatially distributed. From their analysis, the study shows that, in the case under consideration and between the limits considered for each factor, the effect of the Z coefficient on the model response is negligible, while the other two need to be accurately determined in order to obtain precise output variables. The results of this study will be applicable to the others watersheds assessed in the Consolider Scarce Project.