A multi-indicator framework for mapping cultural ecosystem services: The case of freshwater recreational fishing

Ecological Indicators
By: , and 



Despite recent interest, ecosystem services are not yet fully incorporated into private and public decisions about natural resource management. Cultural ecosystem services (CES) are among the most challenging of services to include because they comprise complex ecological and social properties and processes that make them difficult to measure, map or monetize. Like others, CES are vulnerable to landscape changes and unsustainable use. To date, the sustainability of services has not been adequately addressed and few studies have considered measures of service capacity and demand simultaneously. To facilitate sustainability assessments and management of CES, our study objectives were to (1) develop a spatially explicit framework for mapping the capacity of ecosystems to provide freshwater recreational fishing, an important cultural service, (2) map societal demand for freshwater recreational fishing based on license data and identify areas of potential overuse, and (3) demonstrate how maps of relative capacity and relative demand could be interfaced to estimate sustainability of a CES. We mapped freshwater recreational fishing capacity at the 12-digit hydrologic unit-scale in North Carolina and Virginia using a multi-indicator service framework incorporating biophysical and social landscape metrics and mapped demand based on fishing license data. Mapping of capacity revealed a gradual decrease in capacity eastward from the mountains to the coastal plain and that fishing demand was greatest in urban areas. When comparing standardized relative measures of capacity and demand for freshwater recreational fishing, we found that ranks of capacity exceeded ranks of demand in most hydrologic units, except in 17% of North Carolina and 5% of Virginia. Our GIS-based approach to view freshwater recreational fishing through an ecosystem service lens will enable scientists and managers to examine (1) biophysical and social factors that foster or diminish cultural ecosystem services delivery, (2) demand for cultural ecosystem services relative to their capacity, and (3) ecological pressures like potential overuse that affect service sustainability. Ultimately, we expect such analyses to inform decision-making for freshwater recreational fisheries and other cultural ecosystem services.

Publication type Article
Publication Subtype Journal Article
Title A multi-indicator framework for mapping cultural ecosystem services: The case of freshwater recreational fishing
Series title Ecological Indicators
DOI 10.1016/j.ecolind.2014.04.001
Volume 45
Year Published 2014
Language English
Publisher Elsevier
Contributing office(s) Coop Res Unit Leetown
Description 11 p.
First page 255
Last page 265
Online Only (Y/N) N
Additional Online Files (Y/N) N
Google Analytic Metrics Metrics page
Additional publication details