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Ecosystem services are the benefits that nature provides to human well-being: clean air and water, protection from natural disasters, fisheries, crop pollination and control of pests and disease, and outdoor places for recreation, solitude, and renewal. Ecosystem services underlie the functioning of our entire economy. They are neither worthless nor priceless, and by integrating the physical sciences, geography, and economics and other social sciences we can better understand how ecosystems provide value to people, and how to protect and enhance that value.
USGS scientists at GECSC use a variety of modeling and mapping approaches to improve our understanding of the value and distribution of ecosystem services. GECSC scientists pioneered the development of the Social Values for Ecosystem Services (SolVES) tool to map locations on the landscape that are valued by respondents to natural resource management surveys. Working with the USGS Powell Center for Synthesis and Analysis, we are estimating the values derived from migratory species to support new conservation funding mechanisms for valued species. We are also applying the Artificial Intelligence for Ecosystem Services (ARIES) tool to map and value ecosystem service flows at sites across the U.S. and globally. In collaboration with partners from a variety of Federal and State land management agencies, we are working to disseminate this information in support of more sustainable resource management and conservation planning.
Ecosystem Services-Related Research Underway at GECSC
Below are publications associated with this project.