Estuaries and Coasts

, Volume 38, Supplement 1, pp 35–48 | Cite as

Managing Bay and Estuarine Ecosystems for Multiple Services

  • Lisa A. NeedlesEmail author
  • Sarah E. Lester
  • Richard Ambrose
  • Anders Andren
  • Marc Beyeler
  • Michael S. Connor
  • James E. Eckman
  • Barry A. Costa-Pierce
  • Steven D. Gaines
  • Kevin D. Lafferty
  • Hunter S. Lenihan
  • Julia Parrish
  • Mark S. Peterson
  • Amy E. Scaroni
  • Judith S. Weis
  • Dean E. Wendt


Managers are moving from a model of managing individual sectors, human activities, or ecosystem services to an ecosystem-based management (EBM) approach which attempts to balance the range of services provided by ecosystems. Applying EBM is often difficult due to inherent tradeoffs in managing for different services. This challenge particularly holds for estuarine systems, which have been heavily altered in most regions and are often subject to intense management interventions. Estuarine managers can often choose among a range of management tactics to enhance a particular service; although some management actions will result in strong tradeoffs, others may enhance multiple services simultaneously. Management of estuarine ecosystems could be improved by distinguishing between optimal management actions for enhancing multiple services and those that have severe tradeoffs. This requires a framework that evaluates tradeoff scenarios and identifies management actions likely to benefit multiple services. We created a management action-services matrix as a first step towards assessing tradeoffs and providing managers with a decision support tool. We found that management actions that restored or enhanced natural vegetation (e.g., salt marsh and mangroves) and some shellfish (particularly oysters and oyster reef habitat) benefited multiple services. In contrast, management actions such as desalination, salt pond creation, sand mining, and large container shipping had large net negative effects on several of the other services considered in the matrix. Our framework provides resource managers a simple way to inform EBM decisions and can also be used as a first step in more sophisticated approaches that model service delivery.


Ecosystem-based management Ecosystem services Estuary Bay Tradeoff analysis Ecosystem function Marine spatial planning Decision support tool 



This work was funded by a grant from NOAA’s National Sea Grant Office to S. Gaines and S. Lester. This work greatly benefited from the input of the editor, the guest editor and two anonymous reviewers.

Supplementary material

12237_2013_9602_MOESM1_ESM.docx (158 kb)
ESM 1 (DOCX 158 kb)


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Copyright information

© Coastal and Estuarine Research Federation 2013

Authors and Affiliations

  • Lisa A. Needles
    • 1
    Email author
  • Sarah E. Lester
    • 3
  • Richard Ambrose
    • 4
  • Anders Andren
    • 5
  • Marc Beyeler
    • 6
    • 7
  • Michael S. Connor
    • 8
  • James E. Eckman
    • 9
  • Barry A. Costa-Pierce
    • 10
  • Steven D. Gaines
    • 11
  • Kevin D. Lafferty
    • 12
  • Hunter S. Lenihan
    • 11
  • Julia Parrish
    • 13
  • Mark S. Peterson
    • 14
  • Amy E. Scaroni
    • 15
  • Judith S. Weis
    • 16
  • Dean E. Wendt
    • 2
  1. 1.Department of Ecology, Evolution and Marine Biology and the Marine Science InstituteUniversity of CaliforniaSanta BarbaraUSA
  2. 2.Center for Coastal Marine Sciences and Department of Biological SciencesCalifornia Polytechnic State UniversitySan Luis ObispoUSA
  3. 3.Marine Science Institute and Bren School of Environmental Science and ManagementUniversity of CaliforniaSanta BarbaraUSA
  4. 4.Department of Environmental Health SciencesUniversity of CaliforniaLos AngelesUSA
  5. 5.Environmental Chemistry and Technology ProgramUniversity of Wisconsin-MadisonMadisonUSA
  6. 6.Department of Sociology and Department of Environmental StudiesUniversity of CaliforniaSanta CruzUSA
  7. 7.MBA ConsultantsBerkeleyUSA
  8. 8.East Bay Dischargers AuthoritySan LorenzoUSA
  9. 9.California Sea Grant Program, Scripps Institution of OceanographyUniversity of California San DiegoLa JollaUSA
  10. 10.Department of Marine SciencesUniversity of New EnglandBiddefordUSA
  11. 11.Bren School of Environmental Science and ManagementUniversity of CaliforniaSanta BarbaraUSA
  12. 12.Western Ecological Research Center, U.S. Geological Survey, c/o Marine Science InstituteUniversity of CaliforniaSanta BarbaraUSA
  13. 13.School of Aquatic and Fishery Sciences and Biology DepartmentUniversity of WashingtonSeattleUSA
  14. 14.Department of Coastal SciencesUniversity of Southern MississippiOcean SpringsUSA
  15. 15.Wye Research and Education CenterUniversity of Maryland Sea Grant ExtensionQueenstownUSA
  16. 16.Department of Biological SciencesRutgers UniversityNewarkUSA

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