Social Values for Ecosystem Services, Version 4.0 (SolVES 4.0)—Documentation and User Manual

Techniques and Methods 7-C25
By:  and 



The geographic information system tool, Social Values for Ecosystem Services (SolVES), was developed to incorporate quantified and spatially explicit measures of social values into ecosystem service assessments. SolVES 4.0 provides an open-source version of SolVES, which was designed to assess, map, and quantify the social values of ecosystem services. Social values—the perceived, nonmarket values the public ascribes to ecosystem services, particularly cultural services, such as aesthetics and recreation—can be evaluated for various stakeholder groups. These groups are distinguishable by factors such as their attitudes and preferences regarding public uses (for example, motorized recreation and logging). As with previous versions, SolVES 4.0 derives a quantitative 10-point, social-values metric—the value index—from a combination of spatial and nonspatial responses to public value and preference surveys. The tool also calculates metrics characterizing the underlying environment, such as average distance to water and dominant landcover. SolVES 4.0 has been developed with Python using a QGIS user interface and a PostgreSQL database for required data. SolVES is integrated with Maxent maximum entropy modeling software to generate more complete social-value maps and offer robust statistical models describing the relation between the value index and explanatory environmental variables. A model’s goodness of fit to a primary study area and its potential performance in transferring social values to similar areas using value-transfer methods can be evaluated. SolVES 4.0 provides an improved open-source, public-domain tool for decision makers and researchers to evaluate the social values of ecosystem services and to facilitate discussions among diverse stakeholders regarding the tradeoffs among ecosystem services in a variety of biophysical and social contexts including mountain, forest, coastal, riparian, agricultural, and urban environments around the globe.

Suggested Citation

Sherrouse, B.C., and Semmens, D.J., 2020, Social Values for Ecosystem Services, version 4.0 (SolVES 4.0)—Documentation and user manual: U.S. Geological Survey Techniques and Methods, book 7, chap. C25, 59 p., 10.3133/ tm7C25.

ISSN: 2328-7055 (online)

Table of Contents

  • Acknowledgments
  • Abstract
  • Introduction
  • Navigating the User Manual
  • Installation
  • Project Setup
  • Analyze Survey Data
  • Calculation and Interpretation of the Value Index
  • Transfer Values
  • View Results
  • Interpreting and Adjusting Maxent’s Area Under the Curve Values and Variable Contributions
  • Digitizing Points Mapped by Survey Respondents
  • Advanced Options
  • Troubleshooting Common Errors
  • References Cited
  • Appendix 1. Social Values for Ecosystem Services, Version 4.0, Data Requirements, Structure, and Management
  • Appendix 2. Preparing and Loading User-Supplied Data to the “solves” Database
  • Appendix 3. Social Values for Ecosystem Services, Version 4.0, Data Dictionary
Publication type Report
Publication Subtype USGS Numbered Series
Title Social Values for Ecosystem Services, version 4.0 (SolVES 4.0)—Documentation and user manual
Series title Techniques and Methods
Series number 7-C25
DOI 10.3133/tm7C25
Year Published 2020
Language English
Publisher U.S. Geological Survey
Publisher location Reston, VA
Contributing office(s) Geosciences and Environmental Change Science Center
Description Report: ix, 59 p.; Application Site
Online Only (Y/N) Y
Google Analytic Metrics Metrics page
Additional publication details