Integrated Ecosystem Assessment for an Ecosystem Based Approach to Management in the Northern Gulf of Mexico
Ashby, S., Carollo, C., Cebrian, J., Fulford, R., McAnally, W., Milroy, S., & Swenson, E. (2014). Integrated Ecosystem Assessment for an Ecosystem Based Approach to Management in the Northern Gulf of Mexico. Bays and Bayous Symposium 2014. Mobile, AL.
An Integrated Ecosystem Assessment (IEA) was implemented as part of an overall Ecosystem Approach to Management (EAM) effort by the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration. Ongoing studies are being conducted at 4 sites in the Northern Gulf of Mexico, Perdido Bay, Florida; Mississippi Sound, Mississippi; Barataria Basin, Louisiana; and Galveston Bay, Texas. IEA employs a Drivers-Pressures-States-Impacts-Responses (DPSIR) framework for scoping the ecosystem assessment process and setting management goals. Some practitioners replace “Impacts” in the DPSIR framework with “Ecosystem Services”, producing the acronym DPSER. Three major drivers were identified, Hydrologic Alterations, Climate, and Human-Related Processes. The Sulis Community Ecosystem Models and Informatics Services were used for performing Integrated Ecosystem Assessments as well as providing the framework for evaluation of management responses including risk assessment. Specifically, an ecosystem model (TroSim) was used to simulate ecological processes resulting from various stressors. This work exemplifies how interfacing Sulis and Trosim provides a management assessment tool for the Mississippi Sound applicable to varying scenarios of climate and human-induced change.
The Gulf of Mexico offers an appropriate domain in which to develop, evaluate and validate strategies for environmentally and economically-sustainable development and utilization in the decision-making process. This is of particular importance since many restoration projects have been and will continue to be implemented in the Gulf of Mexico. Some of these projects will likely involve gains in goods and benefits provided by coastal ecosystems, and with input from stakeholders, could be of significant value for the decision-making process. The next step in our research is to more fully explore the ecosystem services at these 4 sites and “translate” them into measurements of human well-being based on scenario analyses and management needs. Proposed efforts that focus on interactions of oyster reefs and associated social and economic benefits under various scenarios that can inform the decision-making process will be presented.