Non-linearity in ecosystem services: Temporal and spatial variability in coastal protection

Evamaria W. Koch, Edward B. Barbier, Brian R. Silliman, Denise J. Reed, Gerardo M.E. Perillo, Sally D. Hacker, Elise F. Granek, Jurgenne H. Primavera, Nyawira Muthiga, Stephen Polasky, Benjamin S. Halpern, Christopher J. Kennedy, Carrie V. Kappel, Eric Wolanski

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review

626 Scopus citations


Natural processes tend to vary over time and space, as well as between species. The ecosystem services these natural processes provide are therefore also highly variable. It is often assumed that ecosystem services are provided linearly (unvaryingly, at a steady rate), but natural processes are characterized by thresholds and limiting functions. In this paper, we describe the variability observed in wave attenuation provided by marshes, mangroves, seagrasses, and coral reefs and therefore also in coastal protection. We calculate the economic consequences of assuming coastal protection to be linear. We suggest that, in order to refine ecosystem-based management practices, it is essential that natural variability and cumulative effects be considered in the valuation of ecosystem services.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)29-37
Number of pages9
JournalFrontiers in Ecology and the Environment
Issue number1
StatePublished - Feb 2009


Dive into the research topics of 'Non-linearity in ecosystem services: Temporal and spatial variability in coastal protection'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this