Top Ten Publications in Marine Ecosystem Services

As ranked by the Marine Ecosystem Services Partnership (MESP) and their community of practice*

* The MESP asked a small sample of high-level experts for recommendations and then asked their community of practice to vote on which papers they thought should be included.

1. Barbier, E.B., et al. (2011). The value of estuarine and coastal ecosystem services. Ecological Monographs, 81(2), 169-193.

Reviews the main ecological services provided by coral reefs, seagrass beds, salt marshes, mangroves, and sand beaches/dunes. Also, describes a few of the issues inherent to valuing ecological services and the need to include ecosystem costs in policy decisions.

2. Sanchirico, J., Mumby, P. 2009. Mapping ecosystem functions to the valuation of ecosystem services: implications of species-habitat associations for coastal land-use decisions.

A more technical paper, Sanchirico and Mumby note that the way species use their habitat will affect that habitat’s value. Using fishery habitat and mangroves as their example, the authors show how the relationship between species and their habitat can have implications for coastal development policies.

3. Millennium Ecosystem Assessment. 2005. "Current State and Trends Assessment: Coastal Systems". Tundi Agardy & Jacqueline Alder, eds.

The Millennium Ecosystem Assessment (MA) was initiated by the United Nations in order to assess the impact of ecosystem change on human well-being. The report as a whole involved over 1,360 experts worldwide. The chapter on coastal systems provides an excellent introduction to coastal ecosystem services and their value.

4. Barbier, E. B., et al. (2008). Coastal ecosystem-based management with nonlinear ecological functions and values. Science, 319(5861), 321-323.

This paper points out that the optimal land use option is often an integration of development and conservation goals rather than an “all or none” policy.

5. Barbier, E. B., Strand, I. 1998. Valuing Mangrove-Fishery Linkages- A case study of Campeche,Mexico. Environmental and Resource Economics 12, 151–166.

Barbier and Strand demonstrate how to use a model to account for the effect a change in mangrove habitat area can have on shrimp production. Ultimately, mangrove loss had an effect on shrimp production (and thus fishery values) in the Campeche fishery.

6. Hughes, T. P., et al. (2005). New paradigms for supporting the resilience of marine ecosystem:. Trends in ecology & evolution, 20(7), 380-386.

Hughes et al emphasize the importance of adaptive governance as we learn more about the complex linkages between people and their environment.

7. Pendleton, L.H., 1995. Valuing coral reef protection. Ocean and Coastal Management 26, 119–131.

Pendleton posits a new way of looking at valuation – suggesting marine parks measure savings from avoided losses rather than simply the resource protected. The economic benefit of a marine park is thus the value of avoided reef degradation.

8. Azqueta, D., Sotelsek, D., 2007. Valuing nature: From environmental impacts to natural capital. Ecological Economics Volume 63 1: 22-30.

Outlines the issues and differences in methodology for valuing a particular natural asset and developing estimates for natural capital (i.e. natural resource stocks for National Accounting).

9. Rφnnbδck, P.,et al. (2007). Ecosystem Goods and Services from Swedish Coastal Habitats: Identification, Valuation, and Implications of Ecosystem Shifts. Ambio, 36(7), 534-544.

Identifies a wide variety of important coastal ecosystem services in Sweden and demonstrates changes in the provision of ecosystem services due to ecosystem shifts. Uses the MA’s typology of provisioning, regulating, and cultural services in its case studies.

10. Armstrong, C. W., et al. (2012). Services from the deep: Steps towards valuation of deep sea goods and services. Ecosystem Services, 2(0), 2-13.

The deep sea is a relatively new area of study and researchers are finding it too has value to humans. This paper outlines deep-sea ecosystem goods and services as well as knowledge gaps to be filled.

Honorable Mentions

Spurgeon, J. P. G. 1992. The economic valuation of coral reefs. Marine Pollution Bulletin 24(11):529-536. Pergamon Press

An excellent introduction to the valuation of coral reefs – Spurgeon outlines reasons to value reefs, problems inherent to valuation, and the methodologies of the day.

Wunder, S., et al, 2008. Taking stock: A comparative analysis of payments for environmental services programs in developed and developing countries. Ecological Economics 65

Payments for Ecosystem Services (PES) are a new approach to conservation. This paper synthesizes case studies in the literature to compare PES experiences and find the lessons learned.

Add new comment