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Eastern Geographic Science Center

Description of Current Projects

Assessment of Stream and Floodplain Ecosystem Services in the Chesapeake Bay Watershed

Principal Investigator: Dianna Hogan, U.S. Geological Survey, Eastern Geographic Science Center

The Science Issue and Relevance
Soper Branch - a studya area in the Chesapeake Bay watershed
Streams and floodplains provide significant ecosystem services including water quality regulation, wildlife habitat, flood attenuation, and recreation. However, these services are often neglected in land use decision making due to a lack of ecosystem services assessment and valuation information applicable at the scale at which land use decisions are made. This project was inspired by direct observations of land use decision makers (county councils) trying to incorporate the economic, ecologic, and social values of these environments into land use decisions, but being unable to do so effectively.

Methodology for Addressing the Issue
This project is designed to make ecosystem service information on streams and floodplains available for land use decision making via lidar mapping of stream and floodplain physical characteristics, development of biophysical metrics to estimate ecologic function, and economic valuation of the services provided. This work is being developed in the Chesapeake Bay watershed where field data on floodplain nutrient and sediment processing exists, and lidar mapping of characteristics relevant to the ecosystem service capacity of the floodplain is being done. The ecosystem services of interest include water quality (e.g., nutrient and sediment removal, retention, and transformation functions), flood attenuation, wildlife habitat (living resources and healthy watersheds), and recreation potential.

Future Steps
A primary objective is to provide information and assess values at a scale relevant to inform decision making. This methodology will also be assessed for applicability to other watersheds.

Key Words: ecosystem services, valuation, streams, floodplains, lidar mapping

Contact Information:
Dianna Hogan

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