Bats are an example of a migratory species for which the social and economic values of bat habitat provision, an ecosystem service, can vary along the migration route.
Research under the Ecosystem Services Project is designed to establish methodologies for the assessment, mapping, and valuation of ecosystem goods and services, with an emphasis on understanding how they respond to changing landscape and climatic conditions. Our long-term objective is to translate knowledge gained through a variety of case studies into standardized thematic information, metrics, models, and tools that facilitate improved decision-making by natural resource managers. One focus of the work relates to migratory species. Migratory species may provide more ecosystem goods and services to humans in certain parts of their range than others. These areas may or may not coincide with the locations on which the species is most dependent for its continued population viability. This situation can present significant policy challenges, as locations that most support a given species may be subsidizing the provision of services in other locations, often in different political jurisdictions. The ability to quantify these spatial subsidies could be used to develop economic incentives.
Social Values for Ecosystem Services (SolVES) is a public-domain, GIS tool to assess, map, and quantify perceived social values attributed to ecosystem services by stakeholders (http://solves.cr.usgs.gov). These nonmarket values often correspond to cultural ecosystem services such as aesthetics and recreation, but unlike ecological and economic values, they are not commonly accounted for within the scope of ecosystem service assessments. SolVES allows users to (1) generate social value maps for various stakeholder groups as derived from a combination of their spatial and nonspatial responses to attitude and preference surveys, (2) model the relationship between a quantitative social value index and underlying environmental characteristics, and (3) apply these models through a value-transfer methodology in socially and physically similar areas where primary survey data are unavailable. The ultimate goal for the development and application of SolVES is to provide a tool for decision makers to more completely assess trade-offs among ecosystem services and to communicate results with stakeholders.