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Planning for ecological drought: Integrating ecosystem services and vulnerability assessment

May 23, 2019

As research recognizes the importance of ecological impacts of drought to natural and human communities, drought planning processes need to better incorporate ecological impacts. Drought planning currently recognizes the vulnerability of some ecological impacts from drought (e.g., loss of instream flow affecting fish populations). However, planning often does not identify all the ecological aspects in a landscape that stakeholders value, nor does it examine the extent to which those aspects are vulnerable to drought. One approach for identifying ecological aspects is ecosystem services (ES) -- i.e., the benefits humans receive from nature. To incorporate ecological impacts into drought planning in the Upper Missouri Headwaters region (Montana, USA), we combined ES elicitation using the Common International Classification of Ecosystem Services and a vulnerability assessment using semi-structured interviews. We juxtaposed results from the interviews and the ES elicitation to assess which ES might be vulnerable to drought and which impacts from interviews were associated with losses of ES. While both methods suggested common drought vulnerabilities, each method also suggested drought vulnerabilities not reported using the other method. The ES elicitation produced more detail about services present in the UMH ecosystem today while interviews resulted in more discussion about ecological transformation from future droughts. Results suggest that some combination of open-ended vulnerability assessment methods and ES elicitation using a structured framework can result in greater understanding of ecological drought vulnerability in a given region.

Publication Year 2019
Title Planning for ecological drought: Integrating ecosystem services and vulnerability assessment
DOI 10.1002/wat2.1352
Authors Nejem Raheem, Amanda E. Cravens, Molly S. Cross, Shelley D. Crausbay, Aaron R. Ramirez, Jamie McEvoy, Dionne Zoanni, Deborah J. Bathke, Michael Hayes, Shawn Carter, Madeleine Rubenstein, Ann Schwend, Kimberly R. Hall, Paul Suberu
Publication Type Article
Publication Subtype Journal Article
Series Title WIREs Water
Index ID 70203942
Record Source USGS Publications Warehouse
USGS Organization Fort Collins Science Center; National Climate Change and Wildlife Science Center; Northern Rocky Mountain Science Center