Estuaries and Coasts

, Volume 39, Issue 6, pp 1801–1815 | Cite as

Habitat Restoration from an Ecosystem Goods and Services Perspective: Application of a Spatially Explicit Individual-Based Model

  • R. S. FulfordEmail author
  • M. Russell
  • J. E. Rogers


Estuarine ecosystems provide many services to humans, but these ecosystems are also under pressure from human development, which has led to large investments in habitat protection and restoration. Restoration in estuaries is typically focused on emergent and submerged vegetation with the goal of achieving target areal coverage based on historic conditions. Such restoration targets assume no spatial heterogeneity in habitat value and bypass the functional target of restoring or maintaining delivery of ecosystem goods and services (EGS). We have developed a spatially explicit individual-based behavioral model intended to explore the functional role of habitat restoration on EGS delivery in an index system (Tampa Bay, FL) and for an index EGS (recreational fishing). Model scenarios are based on interaction of inter-annual differences in salinity/temperature patterns (wet, dry, average) with hindcasted “increases” in coverage and distribution of seagrass. Model predictions indicated that the effect of seagrass restoration to historic (1950s) levels on both fish and fishery production is dependent on salinity and temperature. This dependence is based on predicted fish response both to habitat changes and the effective spatial scale of different habitat components. Overall, average salinity/temperature conditions facilitated the highest positive functional response to seagrass restoration with extreme wet/dry years yielding lower or even negative functional responses, but these responses were localized and not homogenous about the estuary. The results of this study provide a methodology for using functional targets in restoration planning and highlight the importance of considering the entire habitat mosaic in valuing restored habitat from an EGS perspective.


Model Ecosystem goods and services Seatrout Seagrass Estuaries 



We would like to thank all those who aided in data collection and analysis, as well as those involved in the development of the model used in this study. In particular, we acknowledge David Chagaris and Paul Rubec from the Florida Fish and Wildlife Research Institute. This paper was greatly improved by the comments of two anonymous reviewers and we also thank them for their efforts. The views expressed in this paper are those of the authors and do not necessarily reflect the views or policies of the US Environmental Protection Agency.


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Copyright information

© Coastal and Estuarine Research Federation (outside the USA) 2016

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Gulf Ecology DivisionUS EPAGulf BreezeUSA

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