Forecasting Critical Ecosystem Services from Measures of Wetland Condition at theWatershed Scale in Freshwater Wetlands of Pennsylvania and Ohio

Document Type


Publication Date




To provide an estimation procedure for wetland ecosystem services that allows wetland management and restoration approaches to align with the provision of ecosystem services. The study achieves this through the following:

  • Identification of ecosystem services that are critical to human well-being;
  • Construction of quantitative process models that relate stressors (related to both land cover and climate change) to condition assessment data (generally used to describe the condition of physical, chemical, or biological compartments) to these critical ecosystem services, and provide a quantitative estimate of accrual;
  • Identification of robust condition assessment data sets that cover a range of important wetland types to allow parameterization of such models, and an analytical method to do so;
  • Specification of the relevant spatial scales on which ecosystem services can be managed, and subsequent estimation of the accrual in ecosystem services on these scales.


We focus here on three of the most valued ecosystem services that wetlands provide: nitrogen retention and cycling, carbon sequestration and storage, and flood abatement. Forecasting services from condition requires understanding how stressors alter the condition of different ecosystem components, and how the condition of those components affects ecosystem processes and the flow of services. We construct conceptual models of the production of ecosystem services as process diagrams involving stressors, physical, chemical, and biologic compartments of wetland ecosystems, and resulting ecosystem services, for major wetland types (riparian and depressional). We parameterize these models utilizing an extensive collection of data sets across Ohio and Pennsylvania with the addition of field sites, where we quantitatively measure denitrification, carbon storage, and flood storage. We will use Structural Equation Modeling to identify key ecological relationships between condition and the provisioning of ecosystem services, and predict responses of wetland ecosystem components to changing environmental conditions.

Expected Results:

We will develop a unique analytical method for quantitative estimation of critical ecosystem services from condition assessment data on a watershed scale. The method could be applied to a wide variety of watersheds or larger spatial units, if the abundance, type, and condition of the wetlands are known.


Report to the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency


EPA-Star Grant R-834262-01.