Assessing the vulnerability of human and biological communities to changing ecosystem services using a GIS-based multi-criteria decision support tool

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Abstract

In this paper we describe an application of a GIS-based multi-criteria decision support web tool that models and evaluates relative changes in ecosystem services to policy and land management decisions. The Santa Cruz Watershed Ecosystem Portfolio (SCWEPM) was designed to provide credible forecasts of responses to ecosystem drivers and stressors and to illustrate the role of land use decisions on spatial and temporal distributions of ecosystem services within a binational (U.S. and Mexico) watershed. We present two SCWEPM sub-models that when analyzed together address bidirectional relationships between social and ecological vulnerability and ecosystem services. The first model employs the Modified Socio-Environmental Vulnerability Index (M-SEVI), which assesses community vulnerability using information from U.S. and Mexico censuses on education, access to resources, migratory status, housing situation, and number of dependents. The second, relating land cover change to biodiversity (provisioning services), models changes in the distribution of terrestrial vertebrate habitat based on multitemporal vegetation and land cover maps, wildlife habitat relationships, and changes in land use/land cover patterns. When assessed concurrently, the models exposed some unexpected relationships between vulnerable communities and ecosystem services provisioning. For instance, the most species-rich habitat type in the watershed, Desert Riparian Forest, increased over time in areas occupied by the most vulnerable populations and declined in areas with less vulnerable populations. This type of information can be used to identify ecological conservation and restoration targets that enhance the livelihoods of people in vulnerable communities and promote biodiversity and ecosystem health.

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Additional publication details

Publication type Conference Paper
Publication Subtype Conference Paper
Title Assessing the vulnerability of human and biological communities to changing ecosystem services using a GIS-based multi-criteria decision support tool
Year Published 2012
Language English
Publisher International Environmental Modelling and Software Society
Contributing office(s) Western Geographic Science Center
Description 8 p.
Larger Work Type Conference Paper
Larger Work Title Proceedings of the sixth biannial meeting of the International Environmental Modelling and Software Society, Leipzig, Germany, July 1-5, 2012
Conference Title 6th International Congress on Environmental Modelling and Software (iEMSs)
Conference Location Leipzig, Germany
Conference Date July 1-5, 2012
Country Mexico, United States
Other Geospatial Santa Cruz watershed
Online Only (Y/N) N
Additional Online Files (Y/N) N