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Aquatic Ecosystem Services Impact Human Well-being

May 17, 2011 – Researchers in the college’s Department of Fish and Wildlife Conservation are working with colleagues from the University of Maryland and McGill University to explore the extent to which biodiversity conservation provides social benefits via effects on key aquatic ecosystem services. These services include water supply, water purification, nitrogen regulation, and wildlife-based recreation (e.g., bird watching and recreational fishing). Data will be collected from the Albemarle-Pamlico Basin, which spans Virginia and North Carolina. Researchers are also exploring applications of the findings to the New River Valley.

The project will focus on mapping current and future capacity flow capabilities of each service, as well as developing tools to analyze how conservation actions provide social and economic benefits. Findings will be used to assist stakeholders and managers in planning and achieving conservation goals. Knowledge of how these services benefit human well-being can greatly improve the cost-effectiveness and political support of conservation programs. “We use human well-being very generally to mean those things that enhance quality of life, including personal health, spiritual renewal, income, longevity, and protection from disasters,” said Professor Paul Angermeier, assistant leader of the Virginia Cooperative Fish and Wildlife Research Unit.

A key component of this research is the involvement and participation of stakeholders in developing plausible future environmental scenarios — intended to reflect potential environmental-response actions such as resource-use change, urban development, or climate change — that would be of special interest to decision makers in the basin. Ultimately, scenarios will be used in a series of basin-wide models to investigate the outcome of management decisions for delivery of aquatic ecosystem services important to area residents.

    CNRE Newsmagazine Spring 2011 Cover

Spring 2011

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