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Health and Environmental Effects Research

Workshop To Define Stream and River Ecosystem Services Indicators Sponsored by ESRP Monitoring and WED

A workshop sponsored by the Western Ecology Division (WED) and the Ecosystems Services Research Program (ESRP) was held July 13-15, 2009, in Denver, CO. In recent years, the Millenium Ecoystem Assessment and other major ecological reports have highlighted the need to consider ecosystem services and their effects on human welfare. This workshop focused on identifying final ecosystem service indicators that can be monitored on streams and rivers and be used for national, long-term, robust reporting on status and trends in ecosystem conditions and the services they provide to human welfare.

The approach used here was to define indicators of final ecosystem services for streams by conducting a workshop comprised of experts with diverse perspectives: scientific disciplines (ecological and social sciences), ecosystem components (biogeochemical, physical habitat, and biological), sampling methodologies (field sampling, inferential methods, and remote sensing), and institutions (government agencies, universities, nongovernment organizations, and the private sector).

The workshop objectives were to (1) provide a parsimonious list of indicators of final ecosystem services directly valued by society and usable in national, regional, and local monitoring; (2) provide a set of final ecosystem service indicators to social scientists for valuation and, ultimately, a "Green GDP;" (3) provide ecologists, social scientists, and resource managers with a common vocabulary and indicators that facilitate interdisciplinary interactions; (4) provide a set of indicators useful in communicating stream services among a broad set of public, social, and natural scientists, managers, and regulators; and (5) identify gaps between the needs of social scientists for information and current stream-monitoring indicators.

Participant organizational affiliations were 10 from academia, 12 from governmental agencies, and 3 from private or nongovernmental organizations. NHEERL participants were Paul Ringold and Dixon Landers (WED, Freshwater Ecology Branch), Wayne Munns (Atlantic Ecology Division, Immediate Office of the Director), and Brian Hill (Mid-Continent Ecology Division, Watershed Diagnostics Branch).

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