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Original Research ARTICLE Provisionally accepted The full-text will be published soon. Notify me

Front. Environ. Sci. | doi: 10.3389/fenvs.2019.00157

Ecosystem service supply in the Antarctic Peninsula region: Evaluating an expert-based assessment approach and a novel seascape data model

  • 1Institute for Advanced Sustainability Studies (IASS), Germany
  • 2Department of Ecosystem Management, Kiel University, Germany
  • 3Scripps Institution of Oceanography, University of California, San Diego, United States
  • 4Lamont Doherty Earth Observatory (LDEO), United States

The Southern Ocean and coastal Antarctica provide a variety of ecosystem services with benefits for humankind that are of regional and global importance. Despite being nearly uninhabited, increasing exploitation of natural resources, a growing human presence, and environmental change threaten the sustained provisioning of these services. Ecosystem service assessments have proven as a suitable tool to understand the relevance of ecosystems for human well-being and guide decision-making, but the fluid and transboundary nature of marine ecosystems poses challenges to analyzing ecosystem services in regions with large marine sections. New methods to objectively assess the supply of ecosystem services for such realms are needed, and this need is exemplified by the Antarctic Peninsula region which encompasses rich marine, coastal and terrestrial ecosystems but faces growing impacts and needs for taking action. In this study, we applied the matrix method, an expert-based approach that employs a tabular matrix of ecosystem services and service providing units to elicit expert knowledge and rate the actual supply of key ecosystems services from the Antarctic Peninsula region. Further, we tested the applicability of this method on conventional definitions of service providing units and on objectively defined physico-chemical seascape units for a subset of the study region.
Our results show high variations in the estimated supply of ecosystem services for the Antarctic Peninsula region, both with respect to the applied data models and in terms of the assessed services. While cultural and regulating services received highest supply estimates, provisioning services were regarded less relevant for the study region. Further, experts’ supply estimates were much lower for the tested physico-chemical seascape units than for bathymetrically regionalized marine areas. The results suggest that a more explicit elaboration of linkages between ecosystem functions and processes and the actual supply of ecosystem service is required in order to tap the full potential of such seascape data models in the context of qualitative, expert-based ecosystem service assessments.

Keywords: Ecosystem services (ES), Service providing units (SPU), Seascapes, Matrix method, Antarctic Peninsula (AP), Expert-based assessment

Received: 13 Jan 2019; Accepted: 30 Sep 2019.

Copyright: © 2019 Neumann, Mikoleit, Bowman, Ducklow and Müller. This is an open-access article distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution License (CC BY). The use, distribution or reproduction in other forums is permitted, provided the original author(s) and the copyright owner(s) are credited and that the original publication in this journal is cited, in accordance with accepted academic practice. No use, distribution or reproduction is permitted which does not comply with these terms.

* Correspondence: Dr. Barbara Neumann, Institute for Advanced Sustainability Studies (IASS), Potsdam, Germany, barbara.neumann@iass-potsdam.de