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Social-ecological systems influence ecosystem service perception: a Programme on Ecosystem Change and Society (PECS) analysis

Cristina Quintas-Soriano, Idaho State University, Department of Biological Sciences, Pocatello, Idaho, USA; Human-Environment Systems Center, Boise State University, Boise, Idaho, USA; Centro Andaluz para la Evaluación y Seguimiento del Cambio Global (CAESCG), Departamento de Biología Vegetal y Ecología, Universidad de Almería, Almería, Spain
Jodi S Brandt, Human-Environment Systems, Boise State University, Boise, Idaho, USA
Katrina Running, Department of Sociology, Social Work, and Criminology, Idaho State University, USA
Colden V. Baxter, Idaho State University, Department of Biological Sciences, Pocatello, Idaho, USA
Dainee M. Gibson, Idaho State University, Department of Biological Sciences, Pocatello, Idaho, USA
Jenna Narducci, Human-Environment Systems Center, Boise State University, Boise, Idaho, USA
Antonio J. Castro, Idaho State University, Department of Biological Sciences, Pocatello, Idaho, USA; Centro Andaluz para la Evaluación y Seguimiento del Cambio Global (CAESCG), Departamento de Biología Vegetal y Ecología, Universidad de Almería, Almería, Spain

DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.5751/ES-10226-230303

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Abstract

Facing the challenges of environmental and social changes, sustainable management of ecosystem services is a worldwide priority. The Programme on Ecosystem Change and Society (PECS) approach provides a unique opportunity for promoting transdisciplinary place-based comparative research for social-ecological systems (SES) management. As part of the PECS-sponsored WaterSES project, we used four place-based SES research sites to analyze patterns in perceptions of ecosystem services. Our data come from about 1,500 face-to-face surveys conducted in southern Spain, the south-central Great Plains of Oklahoma (USA), and the Portneuf and Treasure Valleys, Idaho (USA). Specifically, this study aimed to (1) describe and compare perceptions of ecosystem services within and across SES sites, (2) explore how perceptions of ecosystem services vary among local respondents and by sociodemographic factors, and (3) evaluate the overall relationship between place-based SES contexts and ecosystem service perceptions. Our results revealed that cultural ecosystem services were the most highly mentioned among those surveyed across all four sites. However, we found differences in how ecosystem services were perceived among the four SES contexts. For instance, both, social (e.g., gender, education) and local ecological (e.g., land use and climate) characteristics play roles in influencing people's perceptions of which services are important. Overall, our findings suggest the relationship between people's perceptions of ecosystem services and their social-environmental context is complex, which highlights the value of the PECS approach for crafting more effective and inclusive landscape management strategies.

Key words

cultural ecosystem services; place-based research; social perceptions; stakeholders; WaterSES

Copyright © 2018 by the author(s). Published here under license by The Resilience Alliance. This article  is under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial 4.0 International License.  You may share and adapt the work for noncommercial purposes provided the original author and source are credited, you indicate whether any changes were made, and you include a link to the license.

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Ecology and Society. ISSN: 1708-3087