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Understanding ecosystem services adoption by natural resource managers and research ecologists
- Engel, Daniel D., Evans, Mary Anne, Low, Bobbi S., Schaeffer, Jeff
- Journal of Great Lakes research 2017 v.43 no.3 pp. 169-179
- United States Geological Survey, biological control, decision making, ecologists, economists, ecosystem services, habitats, information management, interviews, natural resource management, primary productivity, recreation, resource management, surveys, tourism, Great Lakes, Great Lakes region, United States
- The ecosystem services (ES) paradigm has gained much traction as a natural resource management approach due to its comprehensive nature and ability to provide quantitative tools to improve decision-making. However, it is still uncertain whether and how practitioners have adopted the ES paradigm into their work and how this aligns with resource management information needs. To address this, we surveyed natural resource managers within the Great Lakes region about their use of ES information in decision-making. We complemented our manager survey with in-depth interviews of a related population—research ecologists at the U.S. Geological Survey Great Lakes Science Center. In this study, managers and ecologists almost unanimously agreed that ES were appropriate to consider in resource management. We also found high congruence between managers and ecologists in the ES considered most relevant to their work, with provision of habitat, recreation and tourism, biological control, and primary production being the ES ranked highly by both groups. However, a disconnect arose when research ecologists deemed the information they provide regarding ES as adequate for management needs, but managers disagreed. Furthermore, managers reported that they would use economic information about ES if they had access to that information. We believe this data deficiency could represent a gap in scientific coverage by ecologists, but it may also simply reflect an underrepresentation of ecological economists who can translate ecological knowledge of ES providers into economic information that many managers desired.