Researchers from Duke University have been working with NOAA and the National Estuarine Research Reserve System to find streamlined ways to incorporate ecosystem services into coastal decision-making. Recently, their work resulted in a generalized Ecosystem Services Conceptual Model (ESCM) for salt marsh ecosystems, which displays how salt marsh restoration interventions result in ecosystem services impacts and provides a template that anyone doing salt marsh restoration can use.
This project is expanding on the ESCM modeling approach by improving the existing salt marsh model and developing new models for other estuarine habitats. The project team is developing site-specific ecosystem conceptual models at a salt marsh and oyster reef site at the North Carolina Reserve, and at a mangrove site at the Rookery Bay Reserve. These site-specific models will be used to improve and/or develop generalized ecosystem services models for each habitat type. This project is linked to a related project, Gulf of Mexico Ecosystem Service Logic Models and Socio-Economic Indicators (GEMS), which is using a similar approach by creating Ecosystem Services Conceptual Models to develop socio-economic indicators for restoration projects in the Gulf of Mexico. Feedback and integration between these two projects can enhance the outputs and findings of both. These efforts can ultimately assist in the development of a standardized approach for consideration of ecosystem services within NOAA and the research reserve system.