Ecosystem services: Challenges and opportunities for hydrologic modeling to support decision making

Andrew J. Guswa, Kate A. Brauman, Casey Brown, Perrine Hamel, Bonnie L. Keeler, Susan Stratton Sayre

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

119 Scopus citations


Ecosystem characteristics and processes provide significant value to human health and well-being, and there is growing interest in quantifying those values. Of particular interest are water-related ecosystem services and the incorporation of their value into local and regional decision making. This presents multiple challenges and opportunities to the hydrologic-modeling community. To motivate advances in water-resources research, we first present three common decision contexts that draw upon an ecosystem-service framework: scenario analysis, payments for watershed services, and spatial planning. Within these contexts, we highlight the particular challenges to hydrologic modeling, and then present a set of opportunities that arise from ecosystem-service decisions. The paper concludes with a set of recommendations regarding how we can prioritize our work to support decisions based on ecosystem-service valuation. Key Points Decisions based on ecosystem services are the norm Support is required for decisions relating land use to water services The hydrologic community can contribute to better informing such decisions

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)4535-4544
Number of pages10
JournalWater Resources Research
Issue number5
StatePublished - May 2014


  • decision making
  • ecosystem services
  • hydrologic modeling
  • uncertainty


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