Indicators of scientific value: An under-recognised ecosystem service of coastal and marine habitats
Coastal ecosystems provide a broad range of ecosystem services, which can be used to justify habitat conservation. The cultural ecosystem services of coastal ecosystems are generally underappreciated, and this is particularly the case when quantifying their scientific value. We created a tiered set of indicators to quantify scientific value spatially, and tested them using the case study of the island nation of Singapore. We conducted a systematic review of research papers, book chapters, conference reports and academic theses produced across 10 coastal ecosystems in Singapore, including mangroves, seagrasses, coral reefs, beaches and artificial coastal structures. At least 656 articles have been produced on Singapore’s coastal zone, with 2201 unique observations, showing that scientific value is spatially variable along Singapore’s coastline. Novel indicators such as the Site Impact Factor are able to differentiate scientific value between sites. This method has shed light on an under-recognised, but important cultural ecosystem service, and is applicable to other spatially-bounded coastal, marine and terrestrial landscapes.