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Research Questions

Our key research objectives and hypotheses

Research Objectives

The following research objectives apply to our ecosystem services of interest: food, timber, and water provisioning, water purification, and carbon sequestration.

  1. Determine the biophysical provision, use, and economic value of ecosystem services and habitat currently provided by the study landscape at various scales, from farm to landscape.
  2. Assess how the provision, use, and economic value of ecosystem services are expected to change in the study region due to land use/land cover (LULC) and climate change, separately and jointly, at multiple spatial scales. Further, analyze how these changes will affect animal species that rely on habitat in the study area.
  3. Determine what areas should be targeted for less intensive land management practice or conservation in order to best sustain ecosystem services provision, use, and value and habitat under a range of LULC change and climate change scenarios. We will use a cost-effectiveness criterion to identify these areas that can provide the greatest increase or maintenance of ecosystem service provision per dollar of economic opportunity cost will be ranked highly.
  4. Compare the outputs of two ecosystem service models – InVEST and COTE – and recommend improvements in each when possible used separately or jointly.
  5. Engage policy stakeholders to explore the interaction of ecosystem service science, scale, and complex policy negotiations.

Research Hypotheses

  1. The extent, density, and spatial pattern of LULC affect the provision, use, and value of ecosystem services. (objective #1)
  2. Land development and climate change will cause the provision, use, and value of some services to increase while others will decrease compared to the reference condition (objective #2).
  3. The combined effects of LULC change and climate change on ecosystem service provision, use, and value will not be the same as the sum of their individual effects (objective #2).
  4. The economic value of ecosystem services is lower under spatially undifferentiated land management
    and conservation approaches than under schemes that target parcels in order of their cost-
    effectiveness of desired service provision (objective #3).
  5. The provision of ecosystem services is more costly to society if a protection approach does not
    consider the opportunity cost of less intensive land management and conservation actions (objective
    #3).
  6. Changes in LULC at one location in the landscape can shift ecosystem services provision and value at
    other points on the landscape (objectives #2 and #4).
  7. Ecosystem services are produced and sensitive to LULC and climate change effects at different spatial
    scales (objective #4).
8)Modeled results from the ecosystem service quantification methods vary in content and quality at different scales (objective #4)