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Modelling ecosystem service flows under uncertainty with stochiastic SPAN

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Abstract

Ecosystem service models are increasingly in demand for decision making. However, the data required to run these models are often patchy, missing, outdated, or untrustworthy. Further, communication of data and model uncertainty to decision makers is often either absent or unintuitive. In this work, we introduce a systematic approach to addressing both the data gap and the difficulty in communicating uncertainty through a stochastic adaptation of the Service Path Attribution Networks (SPAN) framework. The SPAN formalism assesses ecosystem services through a set of up to 16 maps, which characterize the services in a study area in terms of flow pathways between ecosystems and human beneficiaries. Although the SPAN algorithms were originally defined deterministically, we present them here in a stochastic framework which combines probabilistic input data with a stochastic transport model in order to generate probabilistic spatial outputs. This enables a novel feature among ecosystem service models: the ability to spatially visualize uncertainty in the model results. The stochastic SPAN model can analyze areas where data limitations are prohibitive for deterministic models. Greater uncertainty in the model inputs (including missing data) should lead to greater uncertainty expressed in the model’s output distributions. By using Bayesian belief networks to fill data gaps and expert-provided trust assignments to augment untrustworthy or outdated information, we can account for uncertainty in input data, producing a model that is still able to run and provide information where strictly deterministic models could not. Taken together, these attributes enable more robust and intuitive modelling of ecosystem services under uncertainty.

Additional publication details

Publication type Conference Paper
Publication Subtype Conference Paper
Title Modelling ecosystem service flows under uncertainty with stochiastic SPAN
Year Published 2012
Language English
Publisher International Environmental Modelling and Software Society (iEMSs)
Contributing office(s) Rocky Mountain Geographic Science Center
Description 8 p.
Larger Work Type Conference Paper
Larger Work Title 2012 International Congress on Environmental Modelling and Software: Managing Resources of a Limited Planet
First page 1021
Last page 1028
Conference Title 2012 International Congress on Environmental Modelling and Software: Managing Resources of a Limited Planet
Conference Location Leipzig, Germany
Conference Date July 1-5 2012
Online Only (Y/N) N
Additional Online Files (Y/N) N