Frontiers in Ecology and the Environment
Ecological restoration programs often attempt to maintain or enhance ecosystem services (ES), but fine-scale maps of multiple ES are rarely available to support prioritization among potential projects. Here we use agency reports, citizen science, and social media as data sources to quantify the spatial distribution of five recreational elements of cultural ES (CES) – sport fishing, recreational boating, birding, beach use, and park visitation – across North America's Laurentian Great Lakes, where current restoration investments exceed US$1.5 billion. These recreational CES are widely yet unevenly distributed, and spatial correlations among all except park visitation indicate that many locations support multiple CES benefits. Collectively, these five service metrics correlate with tourism gross domestic product, indicating that local economies benefit from ecosystem conditions that support CES. However, locations of high recreational CES delivery are often severely affected by environmental stressors, suggesting that either ecosystem condition or human enjoyment of these recreational CES is resilient even to substantial levels of stress. Our analyses show that spatial assessments of recreational CES are an informative complement to ecosystem stress assessments for guiding large-scale restoration efforts.
Allan, J David; Smith, Sigrid DP; McIntyre, Peter B.; and Joseph, Christine A., "Using cultural ecosystem services to inform restoration priorities in the Laurentian Great Lakes" (2015). College of Agriculture, Science, and Technology. 35.