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Project Details

Measuring the Human Dimensions of Coastal Ecosystems

Project Status: This project began in January 2010 and is Ongoing

We are using social science to better understand the linkages between coastal ecosystems and human health and well-being, with the aim of providing information to managers responsible for natural resources, public heath, community planning, and environmental health.

Why We Care
Coastal communities depend on natural resources for food, health, economic security, cultural and spiritual benefits, and recreation, in addition to the less obvious benefits such as carbon sequestration, clean water, and storm protection. Society and coastal ecosystems are intertwined. It is important that we identify and describe these connections so that we understand the consequences and benefits of our policies and actions.

What We Did and Are Doing
We are measuring the human dimensions of coastal ecosystem health (e.g., changes in ecosystem services, pollution levels, and conservation) using social science methods, including: quantitative modeling with secondary data, primary data collection and analysis using surveys, participatory workshops, focus groups, and interviews. We are also developing methods to integrate social science information with ecosystem assessments and developing the capacity to work on a broad scale to describe indicators for monitoring local communities and counties. This will enable us to prepare for and respond to both rapid and chronic changes in ecosystems, as well as forecast expected changes in communities. We will also be able to identify the values communities place on ecosystem services, places, and the overall condition of the environment.

This work will be conducted and disseminated in partnership with federal, state, and academic agencies to provide the full range of information needed for coastal resources decision-making.

Benefits of Our Work
Our work enables researchers and managers to better understand the relationship between people and the environment.

Regions of Study: Alabama, Florida, Hawaii, Louisiana, Mississippi, North Carolina, South Carolina, Texas, American Samoa, Guam, Pacific Islands, Puerto Rico, US Virgin Islands

Primary Contacts: Maria Dillard, Theresa Goedeke

Research Theme: Science for Coastal Ecosystem Management (Human Dimensions)

Related NCCOS Center: HML

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