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Error propagation associated with benefits transfer-based mapping of ecosystem services

Record type: Article

An increasing number of studies are taking the important first step in global efforts to conserve key ecosystem services by mapping their spatial distributions. However, a lack of primary data for most services in most places has largely forced such mapping exercises to be based on proxies. The common way of producing these proxies is through benefits transfer-based mapping, in which estimates of the values of services are obtained from a small region for particular land cover types, and then extrapolated to a larger area for these same types. However, the errors that may result from such extrapolations are poorly understood. Here, we separate the generalization errors associated with benefits transfer mapping into three constituent components – uniformity, sampling, and regionalization error – and evaluate their effects using primary data for four ecosystem services in England. Variation in ecosystem services within a particular land cover type (uniformity error) alone led to a poor fit to primary data for most services; sampling effects (sampling error) and extrapolating from a small region to a larger area (regionalization error) led to substantial, but highly variable, additional reductions in the fit to primary data. We also show that combining multiple ecosystem services into a single layer is likely to be even more problematic as it contains the errors in each of the constituent layers. These errors are sufficiently large to undermine decisions that might be based on such extrapolated maps. Greatly improved mapping of the actual distributions of ecosystem services is therefore needed to achieve the goal of conserving these vital assets

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Citation

Eigenbrod, Felix, Armsworth, Paul R., Anderson, Barbara J., Heinemeyer, Andreas, Gillings, Simon, Roy, David B., Thomas, Chris D. and Gaston, Kevin J. (2010) Error propagation associated with benefits transfer-based mapping of ecosystem services Biological Conservation, 143, (11), pp. 2487-2493. (doi:10.1016/j.biocon.2010.06.015).

More information

Published date: November 2010
Keywords: biodiversity, carbon, natural capital, sustainability, spatial value transfer, britain

Identifiers

Local EPrints ID: 181345
URI: http://eprints.soton.ac.uk/id/eprint/181345
ISSN: 0006-3207
PURE UUID: 66cb9d9e-22ce-4e6c-8dc8-871a6507a96d

Catalogue record

Date deposited: 18 Apr 2011 10:55
Last modified: 18 Jul 2017 11:59

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Contributors

Author: Felix Eigenbrod
Author: Paul R. Armsworth
Author: Barbara J. Anderson
Author: Andreas Heinemeyer
Author: Simon Gillings
Author: David B. Roy
Author: Chris D. Thomas
Author: Kevin J. Gaston

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