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Ecosystem Services

Canoeists Recreation is one of the many ways that people find value in ecosystems. Credit: Steve Hillebrand, USFWS.

Ecosystem services are attributes and outputs of ecosystems that create value for human users. These services are derived from ecosystem processes such as nutrient cycling, climate regulation, and maintenance of biodiversity. For example, forests stabilize soils, filter water, and sequester carbon. Insects pollinate orchards and crops, and birds and bats pollinate flowers, trees, and shrubs. Squirrels help to regenerate forests by dispersing and burying nuts. And scavengers and bacteria aid in the decomposition of wastes. Ecosystems also provide marketable goods like seafood, timber, and natural fruits and grains.

Staff from the Science Decisions Center helped initiate and lead the development of A Community of Ecosystem Services (ACES), a consortium of scientists and practitioners focused on applying ecosystem services concepts to natural resource decision making.  ACES sponsored international conferences in 2008 and 2010that brought together leaders, managers, and scientists from government, nongovernmental organizations, academia, tribes, and the private sector, to advance the incorporation of ecosystem services in conservation and planning.

Staff at the Center worked with the USDA Forest Service to produce a special ecosystem services edition of the Natural Inquirer, a publication designed as an educational resource for middle-school students. Efforts are now underway to produce another special edition with a focus on adaptive management.




The Center's ongoing projects in support of science for decision making include field studies, cooperative agreements, books, articles, and conferences.

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Williams, B.K., and E.D. Brown. 2012.  Adaptive Management: The U.S. Department of the Interior Applications Guide. Washington, DC: U.S. Department of the Interior.

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sdcUSGS Science and Decisions Center - Advancing science-based decisions about natural resource management

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Liaison Activities

Advisory Committee, 12th National Conference on Science, Policy, and the Environment, National Council for Science and the Environment, Carl Shapiro and Ken Williams, members.

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Applications in the Field

This page higlights applications now being implemented in the field. These applications are directly connected to thematic concerns of the Center.

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