OOS 77-1
Valuation of ecosystem services provided by coastal habitats in the Gulf of Mexico: Approach, application, and relevance

Thursday, August 13, 2015: 1:30 PM
329, Baltimore Convention Center
Cristina Carollo, Harte Research Institute, Texas A&M University-Corpus Christi, Corpus Christi, TX
David Yoskowitz, Harte Research Institute, Texas A&M University-Corpus Christi, Corpus Christi, TX
Background/Question/Methods Due to the increase in coastal population around the world, the management of coastal resources calls for the inclusion of people that depend on, benefit from, transform, and are affected by ecosystems. To inform the decision-making process in developing integrated human-natural management strategies a multidisciplinary approach is required. To this end, the ecosystem services approach was applied to several studies, focus of this presentation. This approach can be considered as a lens that allows looking at ecosystems as natural assets providing services that support, sustain, and enrich human life. Ecosystem services provide a mechanism and context that enables us to explore and quantify how human activities impact the resilience of natural systems, and how in turn resultant changes in the natural environment interact with and impact human well-being. The coastal Gulf of Mexico is an ideal location for the application of this approach. It has some of the fastest growing coastal communities in the U.S., is impacted by numerous natural and anthropogenic processes, and it spans a breadth of human development, from relatively pristine and undeveloped landscapes to heavily impacted and urbanized cities and counties.

Results/Conclusions Here we present the results of research projects focused on ecosystem services provided by Gulf of Mexico coastal habitats. In the first study a meta-regression analysis is used to calculate the changes in selected ecosystem services values due to sea level rise in Galveston Bay, TX. The habitats of focus are salt marsh and fresh marsh and the selected services are habitat, disturbance regulation, recreation, waste regulation, and aesthetics. The value of the selected services shows monetary losses in excess of $60 million per year from 2009 to 2100 for fresh marsh and more than $16 million for salt marsh. The second is an original valuation study of market and non-market ecosystem services provided by marsh, mangroves, and oyster reefs. While oyster catch can be valued using market data, residents’ willingness to pay for viable ecosystems is a much broader and inclusive “commodity”. Estimating passive use values requires a stated preference approach where survey respondents are asked a series of questions in order to elicit their willingness to pay to ensure that the ecosystem services continue to be delivered. Willingness to pay per household per year per %-point change in habitat area varies from $0.8 in Florida to $4.0 in Louisiana for marshes; and from $1.1 in Louisiana to $5.1. in Alabama/Mississippi for oyster reefs.