Cooperative Fish and Wildlife Research Units Program: Virginia
Education, Research and Technical Assistance for Managing Our Natural Resources

Virginia Project

Spatial Analysis of Relations among Conservation Practices, Aquatic Ecosystem Services, and Human Well-being in the Albemarle-Pamlico Basin.

August 2009 - September 2011


Participating Agencies

  • Gap Analysis Program

PROJECT DESCRIPTION: Recent work shows that conservation can affect the flow of ecosystem services, which suggests that conservation can be enhanced by protecting services that exhibit synergies with conservation. Effective management of biodiversity and ecosystem services requires some understanding of the spatio-temporal distribution of the services themselves, their benefit to humans, and the total value of landscapes under alternative management scenarios. We propose to begin to document, map, and quantify linkages among conservation practices, ecosystem services, and human well-being in the Albemarle-Pamlica basin of Virginia and North Carolina. Our goal is to develop a framework for conceptualizing, mapping, quantifying, and valuing services provided by aquatic ecosystems; communicate the framework to stakeholders; and apply the framework to a pilot ecosystem. We want the framework to highlight linkages among freshwater biodiversity, ecosystem services, human well-being, and common management scenarios. We will use 4 focal services (water supply, water purification, nitrogen regulation, and wildlife-based recreation to illustrate patterns. OBJECTIVES: The proposed work comprises four sequential but interactive objectives: 1) Develop tools and methods for analyzing spatial relations of conservation actions, selected ES, and HWB; 2) Conduct analyses of spatial relations for and among selected ES, disservices, and HWB; 3) Evaluate influences of conservation actions on ES capacity, ES flow, and HWB; and 4) Produce maps, tools, and findings useful to stakeholders and managers in achieving conservation goals. PROGRESS: We sought feedback from stakeholders to help refine our definitions of ES capacities and flows and choose mappable metrics of the capacity of ecosystems to produce our focal ES. Based on information from published literature and on publicly available data, we developed preliminary maps of water-supply capacity and flow, water purification capacity and flow, recreational fishing capacity and flow, bird watching capacity and flow, and human well-being. We also conducted a workshop for ~20 stakeholder groups to explain our approach to mapping ES and to draft future scenarios for the APB, which will be subjected to spatial analyses so they can be compared to maps of current ES capacity and flow. We are drafting 2 manuscripts from this work; they will be peer-reviewed and submitted to appropriate journals.