• Academic publication

Accounting for uncertainty in marine ecosystem service predictions for spatial prioritisation

Rullens V, Stephenson F, Townsend M, Lohrer A, Hewitt J, Pilditch C & Ellis J
(March 2024)

Spatial assessments of Ecosystem Services (ES) are increasingly used in environmental management and spatial planning, but rarely provide information on the accuracy of predictions. In marine environments, the need for uncertainty assessments for ES is unparalleled as they are data scarce, poorly (spatially) defined, with complex interconnectivity of seascapes. This study investigates the uncertainty associated with a principle-based method for ES modelling by accounting for model variability, model data coverage, and uncertainty in thresholds and parameters for common marine bivalves. Spatial uncertainty patterns were analyzed for their contribution to four dominant services including food provision, water quality regulation, nitrogen removal and sediment stabilization and through spatial prioritization using Zonation. The spatial prioritisation in combination with the ES uncertainty biplots provide tools for spatial planning of individual and multiple ES to focus on area of highest value with highest certainty. Information from uncertainty analysis can help reduce risk and aid informed decision-making at acceptable confidence levels. This type of information is urgently needed in marine ES assessments and their management, which extends to other environments to improve transparency and confidence in ES assessments.

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