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Toward an integrated understanding of perceived biodiversity values and environmental conditions in a national park

August 29, 2016

In spatial planning and management of protected areas, increased priority is being given to research that integrates social and ecological data. However, public viewpoints of the benefits provided by ecosystems are not easily quantified and often implicitly folded into natural resource management decisions. Drawing on a spatially explicit participatory mapping exercise and a Social Values for Ecosystem Services (SolVES) analysis tool, the present study empirically examined and integrated social values for ecosystem services and environmental conditions within Channel Islands National Park, California. Specifically, a social value indicator of perceived biodiversity was examined using on-site survey data collected from a sample of people who visited the park. This information was modeled alongside eight environmental conditions including faunal species richness for six taxa, vegetation density, categories of marine and terrestrial land cover, and distance to features relevant for decision-makers. Results showed that biodiversity value points assigned to places by the pooled sample of respondents were widely and unevenly mapped, which reflected the belief that biodiversity was embodied to varying degrees by multiple locations in the park. Models generated for two survey subgroups defined by their self-reported knowledge of the Channels Islands revealed distinct spatial patterns of these perceived values. Specifically, respondents with high knowledge valued large spaces that were publicly inaccessible and unlikely to contain on-ground biodiversity, whereas respondents with low knowledge valued places that were experienced first-hand. Accessibility and infrastructure were also important considerations for anticipating how and where people valued the protected land and seascapes of Channel Islands National Park.

Publication Year 2016
Title Toward an integrated understanding of perceived biodiversity values and environmental conditions in a national park
DOI 10.1016/j.ecolind.2016.07.029
Authors Carena J. van Riper, Gerard T. Kyle, Benson C. Sherrouse, Kenneth J. Bagstad, Stephen G. Sutton
Publication Type Article
Publication Subtype Journal Article
Series Title Ecological Indicators
Index ID 70176124
Record Source USGS Publications Warehouse
USGS Organization Geosciences and Environmental Change Science Center