There is a growing need to incorporate and prioritize ecosystem services/condition information into land-use decision making. While there are a number of place-based studies looking at how land-use decisions affect the availability and delivery of coastal services, many of these methods require data, funding and/or expertise that may be inaccessible to many coastal communities. Using existing classification standards for beneficiaries and coastal habitats (i.e., Final Ecosystem Goods and Services Classification System (FEGS-CS) and Coastal and Marine Ecological Classification Standard (CMECS)), a comprehensive literature review was coupled with a “weight of evidence” approach to evaluate linkages between beneficiaries and coastal habitat features most relevant to community needs. An initial search of peer-reviewed journal articles was conducted using the ScienceDirect online repository identifying sources that provide evidence for coastal beneficiary:habitat linkages. Potential sources were further refined based on a double-blind review of titles, abstracts, and full-texts, when needed. Articles in the final list were then scored based on habitat/beneficiary specificity and data quality (e.g., indirect evidence from literature reviews was scored lower than direct evidence from case studies with valuation results). Scores were then incorporated into a weight of evidence framework summarizing the support for each beneficiary:habitat link.
Just over 2,800 unique articles were identified by our search using terms including “ecosystem service” or “ecosystem good”, along with “coast,” “nearshore,” and/or “habitat.” Approximately 16% of those articles addressed linkages between habitats and beneficiaries and were included in subsequent analysis. Most evidence addressed recreational (83%) and industrial (35%) beneficiary groups, with commercial fishermen and experiential-users/hikers the most prominent users represented in each category, respectively. Links to residential property owners, artistic, and educational users were also relatively robust in the literature evidence. Different patterns emerged when assessing habitats most often linked to user groups. For example, recreational users were linked to the widest diversity of CMECS subclasses (i.e., 22 of 26), whereas evidence for commercial transport of goods and people was limited to channels, harbors, estuarine open water, and marine nearshore areas. Not surprisingly, most evidence for residential property owners related to forested and scrub-shrub wetlands (e.g., mangroves) and emergent wetlands, frequently cited for their protection from storm surge. Overall results summarize linkages between FEGS beneficiaries and mappable coastal habitat features, based on published literature, that can readily be used in a range of planning applications, like prioritizing restoration or evaluating how development scenarios may affect ecosystem service delivery.