Kai Chan


Research Classification

Research Interests

Human Ecology
Ecology and Quality of the Environment
Social and Cultural Factors of Environmental Protection
Applied Ethics
Values and Lifestyles
Sustainable Development
conservation finance
Conservation science
cultural ecosystem services
Ecosystem services
environmental assessment
environmental values
incentive programs
payments for ecosystem services
social-ecological systems
sustainability science

Relevant Thesis-Based Degree Programs



I am a professor in the Institute for Resources, Environment and Sustainability at University of British Columbia. I am an interdisciplinary, problem-oriented sustainability scientist, trained in ecology, policy, and ethics from Princeton and Stanford Universities. I strive to understand how social-ecological systems can be transformed to be both better and wilder (‘better’ including considerations of justice). Towards this end, I do modeling and empirical research to improve the management and governance of social-ecological systems. I have special interest in ecosystem services (ES; while recognizing and working on the concept’s limitations), including cumulative impacts and risks to ES; the evolutionary ecology of pest control; applied environmental ethics; ecosystem-based management; social-ecological systems and resilience; and connecting these ecosystem-oriented efforts to environmental assessment (e.g., LCA).


Master's students
Doctoral students
Postdoctoral Fellows

See http://chanslab.ires.ubc.ca/people/chan/

I support public scholarship, e.g. through the Public Scholars Initiative, and am available to supervise students and Postdocs interested in collaborating with external partners as part of their research.
I am open to hosting Visiting International Research Students (non-degree, up to 12 months).

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Great Supervisor Week Mentions

Each year graduate students are encouraged to give kudos to their supervisors through social media and our website as part of #GreatSupervisorWeek. Below are students who mentioned this supervisor since the initiative was started in 2017.


Kai is a great supervisor who helps me think outside the box and expand my understanding of complex social ecological systems. He has guided me to think critically about my research questions and inspired me via his novel work with IPBES and many interdisciplinary scholars who are also committed to making transformational changes in global ecosystem management. I feel extremely fortunate to be part of his lab and contribute to sharing ideas and creating knowledge and environmental solutions under his guidance.

Rumi Naito (2019)


I'm privileged to have two #GreatSupervisors at #UBC who teach me a lot about many things. I especially learn from their tenacity and persistence on everything they do. It’s contagious. Thanks @KaiChanUBC and @jiayingzhao for sharing your time and knowledge with me!


Graduate Student Supervision

Doctoral Student Supervision

Dissertations completed in 2010 or later are listed below. Please note that there is a 6-12 month delay to add the latest dissertations.

Pampa and Pallay: the paradox of culture and economy in the Andean mountains (2022)

Cultural heritage around the world is struggling to stay alive as global markets increasingly reward efficiency and standardization over handmade, traditional processes. Yet it is this very heritage that could bring humanity together, revive cultural identities, and promote sustainable development. The Quechua textile tradition in Peru is one such practice, and its future is tenuous amidst synthetic replicas of traditional weavings that are sold in markets across Cusco. After working to revitalize this tradition for over 15 years, here I delve into theoretical understandings of the realities of safeguarding cultural heritage in an era of rapid economic change. Working collaboratively with five rural Quechua communities, I use mixed methods in this research, including ethnographic immersion, semi-structured interviews, participatory action, and an oral-tactile textile survey. I present my dissertation creatively in two parts: the warp (academic research, expressed through five empirical chapters) and the weft (six practical tools to support textile revitalization at the community level). My research is interdisciplinary, situated within the frameworks of socioecological systems, cultural heritage law, and collective intellectual property rights. I ask how local communities are navigating trade-offs among economic, environmental, and sociocultural considerations as they safeguard their cultural heritage. As part of this, I work with highland alpaca-herders to recuperate their local alpaca-rearing tradition. I also explore the relationship between authenticity and adaptation in the context of the market economy, with reference to how this relationship may affect Quechua weavers’ resilience. I assess opinions of local producers, vendors, and consumers regarding which textile attributes are considered most and least authentic, understanding that many traditional processes are adapting due to stressors like market demand, climate change, and rural-urban emigration. I argue that, when safeguarding cultural heritage, values reflecting sociocultural and environmental wellbeing are often demoted in favour of economic security. Currently, markets are not set up to support small-scale artisans, and especially artisans who are women. I put forth various solutions to these dilemmas, including recommendations about community-based certifications and the pivotal role that vendors can – and arguably ought to – play as educators, to collectively shift the market towards one that recognizes and values cultural heritage.

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"Still water, who knows you?": counter-mapping traditional knowledge and ancestral values with Nak'azdli Whut'en (2021)

No abstract available.

Leveraging human - nature relationships towards sustainable pathways (2021)

No abstract available.

Nutrient yields from northwest Atlantic fisheries: analysis, indicators, and optimization (2020)

There is a fundamental challenge to the dual objectives of improving ocean health and ending hunger and malnutrition. Seafood derived from fisheries plays a critical role in providing a variety of nutrients to people who are at high risk of malnutrition. However, catches of overfished stocks must be reduced, at least in the near term, to allow stock biomass to rebuild. Reducing catches, in turn, may result in reduced availability of nutrients for people. This suggests that fisheries decisions may have unintended consequences for human nutrition. Currently, nutrition information does not inform fisheries decision-making processes. One challenge to the integration of nutrition and fisheries policy is that fisheries yields are quantified, analyzed, and broadly conceived in terms of the weight of the catch, without regard for the nutrient content of the catch. In this dissertation, I explore this issue from multiple perspectives. In Chapter 2, I analyze the yields of a suite of nutrients obtained from fisheries landings in the Northwest Atlantic Fishery Organization (NAFO) region over the period 1950-2014. Results demonstrate that trends and patterns in nutrient yields can differ, sometimes substantially, from those associated with catch weights. Some species may appear to be minor from a catch weight perspective but play outsized roles in supplying specific nutrients. Notably, recent yields of multiple nutrients have been disproportionately reliant on one species (Atlantic herring, Clupea harengus). In Chapter 3, I evaluate the nutrient yield consequences of the use of Atlantic herring as bait in the Maine fishery for American lobster (Homarus americanus). Results indicate that the lobster fishery likely consumes more nutrients through its use of herring than it produces through lobster landings. In Chapter 4, I present a theoretical approach to optimizing fisheries’ nutrient yields relative to landings weights. This approach maximizes the difference between total nutrient yields and total fishery landings. In Chapter 5, I apply this optimization approach to NAFO fisheries. The results of Chapter 5 indicate that recent NAFO nutrient yields could be maintained at relatively high levels even if total landings were to be reduced.

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Perennial agriculture: agronomy and environment in long-lived food systems (2020)

No abstract available.

Filling the void: struggles over implementing freshwater policy in Aotearoa New Zealand (2019)

This dissertation analyzes how the implementation of environmental policy is shaped by struggles over interpretation. Policy implementation is not a linear or mechanistic process, but is influenced by the subjective interpretation of policy concepts and how those relate to implementation practices. At the same time, however, not all interpretations are equal, and some are more influential than others. While there may be an initial ‘institutional void’ in which many interpretations are considered legitimate, political actors will attempt to structure this void by narrowing down the range of acceptable policy interpretations.The following chapters investigate how actors attempt to structure the institutional void of policy implementation. Chapter 2 situates the meaning of freshwater policy within historical debates about freshwater and its connection to colonial, biophysical, economic, and regulatory problems. Chapters 3-5 explore how three sets of actors engage in interpretive channelization by crafting and circulating their preferred interpretations of policy concepts in the implementation process. The state uses a diverse menu of regulatory and non-regulatory mechanisms to require and guide local authorities to implement policy in a certain way. Local governments face unique circumstances and must narrate the policy requirements into alignment with the interests of local organizations. Non-state experts such as intermediaries can augment local government interpretations by providing research and technical advice, but can also engage antagonistically by challenging interpretations in court or by using spatial inter-referencing to weaken the power of specific interpretations.By treating the implementation of policy as amenable to political struggle, a clearer political diagnosis of opportunities and constraints can be conducted. Within each of the channelizing processes described here, both constraint and opportunity exist: even a neoliberal government must respond to public aspirations for water; politicians influence but cannot completely control bureaucrats within the state apparatus; local governments experience progressive as well as conservative contextual forces; and expert intermediaries can be champions of decolonization and not just advocates of cost-minimization. While the contours of opportunity and constraint will be unique for each policy context, it is crucial to attend to both together if we want to realize environmental justice in practice.

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Losing woodcreepers, iconizing manakins, and despising grackles : understanding human-bird relationships in agro-ecological landscapes (2019)

No abstract available.

"Market" participation for development and environmental sustainability: Costa Rican dairy markets and payments for ecosystem services (2018)

Producer participation in markets, including modernized food value chains (MFVCs) and conservation programs like payments for environmental services (PES), is promoted for both human development and environmental sustainability. Participation can benefit farmers but there are concerns that limiting producer choice and concentrating power with intermediaries could have negative consequences for wellbeing and sustainability. PES and MFVCs have similarities for participating producers, suggesting scope for cross-pollination and insight. However, the literatures remain largely separate, tend to consider a narrow set of indicators, and produce mixed results.This dissertation explores the following questions in the case of dairy farmers in Costa Rica: (1) How and when can producer participation in intermediary-driven food and environmental value chains lead to positive outcomes for wellbeing and sustainability? (2) How and when is it useful to consider PES and food value chains together? Using statistical and qualitative methods with 217 household surveys and 23 key informant interviews, this dissertation assesses how indicators of human wellbeing, broadly conceived, and agricultural practices differ between farms supplying MFVCs versus traditional dairy value chains, and between those who are and are not participating in PES. Chapter 2 uses an adaptive capacity framing to show that Costa Rican producers selling in MFVCs were likely better equipped to manage change than those selling in traditional markets. Chapter 3 provides evidence that wellbeing in MFVCs also varied between value chains: those selling via a multinational cooperative appear substantially better off than those selling to a private processor. Chapter 4 presents evidence that PES participants experienced limited material wellbeing benefits from participation; rather, values appeared to be an important motivator for many. Chapter 5 examines correlations between the use of more sustainable agricultural practices and participation in MFVCs and PES. MFVCs appear to be a stronger force than environmental values in shaping farm management choices. This dissertation highlights the value of a broad approach to wellbeing that considers non-material benefits and motivations alongside material ones. Considering Costa Rican PES and dairy market participation together highlights intermediaries and producer-intermediary relationships as important in influencing human and environmental outcomes when farmers participate in MFVCs and PES.

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Agri-'culture' and biodiversity: rethinking payments for ecosystem services in light of relational values (2018)

Agricultural land management has major implications for biodiversity and ecosystem services, including the many cultural and social values that agricultural landscapes provide. A key challenge is balancing trade-offs between these diverse and sometimes conflicting goals. One popular but controversial tool to address this challenge is Payments for Ecosystem Services (PES) programs, which offer agricultural producers monetary compensation for stewardship actions. In this dissertation, I consider the role of environmental values in policy-making and program development, both for PES or alternative policy options to address the ecological impacts of agriculture.The first study examines the consequences of applying a metric (as a simple scientific tool) towards the challenge of food system sustainability in Vancouver, Canada. Via a case study examining four different policy options (including a PES program), I conclude that the Ecological Footprint, when applied as a sustainability metric, led the city towards a ‘metric trap’ that excluded policy options and prioritized particular values. The second study examines an incentive program in Costa Rica that pays farmers to protect forested land. I show that while program management focused on the instrumental values of nature and used an economic framing for the program, most participants focused on values about their relationships to the land (relational values) and saw the program as a type of help or support. The final two studies examine an incentive program for riparian buffers on agricultural land in the Puget Sound region of Washington State (USA). In the third study, I use interviews with land managers to show how key program rules conflict with farmer and rural land manager values. The fourth study draws on expert interviews and document analysis to show the ways that supposedly value-free scientific guidelines, in reality, express a suite of values regarding culture, landscape and place. This dissertation as a whole shows the ways that environmental policies and programs articulate values about what matters, and why, via supposedly value-free rules, regulations, metrics, and guidelines. I conclude by offering suggestions for how agri-environmental incentive programs could be made more effective and popular by incorporating values-thinking.

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For love or money: harnessing environmental values and financial incentives to promote conservation stewardship (2017)

No abstract available.

Sea Otters, Kelp Forests, and Ecosystem Services: Modelling habitats, uncertainties, and trade-offs (2016)

No abstract available.

Understanding adaptation and social-ecological change in Chilean coastal communities (2016)

In recent decades, attempts have been made to integrate social and ecological dimensions of change into understandings of resource sustainability, yet challenges persist. Complex dynamics in social-ecological systems fuel these challenges, rendering it difficult to anticipate and address problems arising from development or environmental change. This dissertation examines the ability of common-pool resource (CPR) theories to address and realize sustainable management. Traditionally, CPR systems have been understood as a set of design principles for managing resources, especially single-resource regimes wherein local drivers of change are known. However, most CPR settings are embedded in complex systems and affected by drivers at global to local scales. This recognition has led many scholars to champion adaptation as the way forward, but significant confusion remains over key concepts, including adaptive capacity. Focusing on Chile’s small-scale fishers and divers, I explore how user adaptations and sociocultural shifts in response to globalization can threaten the resilience of Chile’s celebrated territorial user rights regime. I develop a typology of user motivations, and explain how these intersect with user adaptations and expand our ability to create more robust management. By studying the concrete adaptation behaviours of marine users, I also demonstrate how adaptive capacity is a proactive process and behaviour-specific, contrary to assessment methods that emphasize generalizability. Similarly, by measuring social learning as the propensity of individuals to attend to social information, I show how social learning may not be uniformly positive (and may even be negative) for social-ecological outcomes, counter to expectations in contemporary resource literatures. Finally, it is generally assumed that common understanding of resource dynamics will improve the kinds of collective action that ensures the success of CPRs. Results suggest that other variables may be more important (e.g., migrant population), and the positive role of common understanding requires further testing using clear measures. Overall, the results of this dissertation suggest a need to attend to, and account for, a broader set of potentially significant social and psychological variables. Adopting a more precise and critical eye regarding human factors, as endeavoured in this study, may help the science of social-ecological sustainability progress more capably and effectively.

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Understanding and Assessing Cumulative Impacts to Coastal Ecosystem Services (2016)

Anthropogenic impacts to the environment are often co-occurring and cumulative. While research on cumulative environmental impacts has historically focused on biophysical attributes, anthropogenic activities also pose risks to ecosystem services. This dissertation evaluates the state of environmental impact assessment, particularly the characterization of cumulative impacts, and pilots new methods in two sites with varying data availability: coastal British Columbia (relatively high data availability) and Tasman and Golden Bays, New Zealand (relatively low data availability). First, I assessed the state of cumulative impact assessment in its most common legally mandated form, Environmental Impact Assessments (EIAs), from seven nations. EIAs generally identified a large number of impacts, though a consistently minute subset was deemed “significant” for decision-making. Many EIAs considered spatiotemporal scopes smaller than justifiable, presumed mitigations effective without justification, and determined significance by consultants (paid by developers) with minimal stakeholder input. Next, I piloted two novel cumulative impact assessment procedures for contexts with available data. These procedures combined spatial analysis with expert elicitation for the first, and used Bayesian networks for the second. First, I found that some ecosystem services in British Columbia face higher risk from global stressors, while others face higher risk from local stressors. Changes to ecosystem service access and perceived quality may be as important as changes to biophysical attributes. Second, I show that management plans for the herring fishery are likely ineffective because important impacts were unaddressed. Finally, I piloted a novel expert elicitation approach to characterize and quantify impacts on ecosystem services in data-poor contexts. Local New Zealand experts were tasked with estimating impact before and after group deliberations, and describe causes of impact. This methodology simultaneously reduces the variability among experts’ best estimates, while also increasing individual uncertainty. Despite high uncertainty of individual stressor impact, cumulative impacts were consistently high across ecosystem services. The key stressor was sedimentation, caused by interacting climate change and activities based on land and in the water. As a whole, this dissertation advances the nascent state of cumulative impact assessment for ecosystem services, and pioneers diverse methods to synthesize understanding of these crucial considerations for management and policymaking.

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Wind of change: offshore wind farms, contested values and ecosystem services (2016)

No abstract available.

An even less convenient truth: addressing the challenge of sustainable development through an integration of cognition and culture (2014)

‘Sustainable development,’ or how to achieve durably desirable states in our planet’s nested social-ecological systems, has been heralded by many as the core civilizational challenge of the 21st century. Adding to this challenge is the fact that the scientific study of how to model and manage such complex systems is confounded by a number of archaic intellectual legacies from predecessor disciplines. Chief among these is a relatively crude, low-resolution ‘rational actor’ theory of human behaviour, which lies in tension with a range of more recent, empirical insights regarding how humans absorb information, make decisions, and act, in situ. I argue that, while authors widely acknowledge the former theory to be insufficient, terminological inconsistencies and conceptual opacity have prevented the latter insights from being fully integrated into much sustainable development research. This dissertation aims to help bridge that gap on the level of both theory and practice. First, I present an accessible, original synthesis of cumulative recent findings on human cognition. This synthesis suggests a key object of analysis should be the particular ways in which people reduce the deep complexity of their social-ecological context into actionable information. I then apply this theoretical lens to the study of two areas designated by the UN as sites for experimentation with the concept of sustainable development: Mt. Carmel UNESCO Biosphere Reserve in Israel, and Clayoquot Sound UNESCO Biosphere Reserve in British Columbia, Canada. Both Mt. Carmel and Clayoquot Sound are reeling from major ecological shifts, and discordant multistakeholder relations. In my data chapters, I show that by (a) applying my synthesized theoretical lens to an analysis of how the various stakeholders perceive their local context, and (b) adapting and combining a range of elicitation and analysis methods that heretofore have been applied in isolation, I am able to generate insights that have direct, actionable significance for the management of these sensitive, politically fraught social-ecological systems. I conclude with a discussion of implications, caveats, prospects of scalability, and suggestions for future research.

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Research on Marine Coastal Impacts to Promote Ecosystem-Based Management: Nonnative Species in Northeast Pacific Estuaries (2012)

Ecosystem-based management (EBM) offers a holistic evaluation of tradeoffs between human activities, but this offer rests upon a foundation of science. In this thesis, I assessed and advanced the knowledge-base for EBM in five ways, focusing on nonnative species in estuarine ecosystems.In Chapter 2, I tested for the comprehensiveness of research that connects the impacts of anthropogenic activities to changes in ecosystem service production, employing a literature review of estuarine ecosystems. Research on these connections virtually never included the relationship of activities to ecosystem services production, presenting an impressive gap in research for evaluating tradeoffs using EBM.I addressed the sufficiency of existing information regarding nonnative species in eelgrass beds in Chapter 3. I tested the relationship of nonnative species in British Columbia’s (BC) eelgrass beds with arrival pathways and environmental selection factors. There were few (12) nonnatives in BC’s eelgrass; all associated most commonly with aquaculture facilities and warm temperatures. Existing reports included the majority of nonnatives: only one species, the bamboo worm Clymenella torquata, represented a new record, as I described in Chapter 4.Impacts of nonnatives are difficult to limit after invasion. In Chapter 5, I developed an approach for characterizing the potential economic impacts of nonnatives. I focused on European green crab, a nonnative species that has not yet arrived in Puget Sound, Washington. At a range of invasion densities and increasing calorie diets, I calculated a value-at-risk to shellfish harvest ranging from $1.6 - $41 million USD. Such calculations can aid in preparation for impending invasion by motivating prevention and mitigation efforts.Nonnative management is often based on the available understanding of the impacts on native species. In Chapter 6, I assessed available research on the impact of nonnative seagrass, Zostera japonica, in northeast Pacific estuaries. My results suggested existing studies that quantitatively test Z. japonica impacts are insufficient to comprehensively assess the effects of this invasion. My dissertation research highlights the need for research to determine the ecosystem role of nonnatives in their invaded range through analysis of quantitative studies across broad scales.

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Master's Student Supervision

Theses completed in 2010 or later are listed below. Please note that there is a 6-12 month delay to add the latest theses.

Prime real estate: how urban landscape variables influence bat presence in Vancouver, Canada (2022)

No abstract available.

Walking the walk: outdoor recreation predicts sustainability actions alongside environmental attitudes, values, and beliefs (2022)

No abstract available.

A marine megafaunal extinction and its consequences for kelp forests of the North Pacific (2020)

No abstract available.

The Canadian outdoors from the perspective of recent immigrants in Metro Vancouver: Nature nurtures newcomers (2020)

No abstract available.

Differences between farmer and government official views of best management practices: cracks or canyons? (2018)

No abstract available.

Content and prevalence of environmentalist stereotypes in Canada: a psychological perspective (2017)

What are public perceptions of environmentalists in Canada? Stereotypes, beliefs that members of a group possess certain characteristics, are widely understood and communicated within a culture, even amongst individuals who do not believe them to be representative of the group in question (Jackson, 2011). Research suggests that stereotypes of environmentalists are primarily negative and may impede environmental participation (Bashir, Lockwood, Chasteen, Nadolny, & Noyes, 2013; Minson & Monin, 2012). Yet few studies have assessed environmentalist perceptions of their own in-group stereotypes. The current study builds on previous research by including representation from the environmental community and more broadly from the Canadian population (N = 489). This research uses qualitative and quantitative social psychology methods to explore the content and prevalence of environmentalist stereotypes. Participants completed a survey containing established research scales: New Ecological Paradigm, Stereotype Content Model, System Justification scale, and modified scales on pro-environmental identity. Irrespective of their own environmental attitudes or identity, participants listed highly similar and largely positive words in association with environmentalists. When asked to rate public perceptions of environmentalists, participants provided similar moderate ratings on warmth and competence, and low rating for status. Perceptions of competition between environmentalists and the public, in resources, decision-making, and power, were higher amongst non-environmentalists and varied according to political ideology and province of residence. Patterns in the data also suggest that with regards to environmental attitudes and views about society, both non-environmentalists and strong environmentalists are relatively distinct groups, whereas there is high similarity and possibly fluidity between moderate environmentalists and neutral participants (i.e., neither agreed or disagreed to identifying as an environmentalist). Thus, while environmental attitudes and identity were positively correlated, environmental attitudes only partly predicted environmentalist identity. A better understanding of environmentalist stereotypes may contribute to psychology research on inter-group relations and stereotypes, and may offer insight into resistance to environmental initiatives, thereby improving design for greater public engagement. This information may also help improve understanding of conflict in decision-making processes, and assist in the development of group facilitation and management tools that break down barriers between interest groups, thereby improving collaboration and outcomes in decision-making processes.

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Effects of Sea Otters on Nearshore Ecosystem Functions with Implications for Ecosystem Services (2011)

Sea otters are nearshore predators whose impacts have potential implications for the provision of ecosystem services on the west coast of Vancouver Island. Sea otter predation on herbivorous sea urchins can allow kelp beds to flourish. Increased kelp production can act as a food subsidy to mussels which can promote faster growth. Otters also depredate mussels, which can affect the habitat provision function of mussels and limit them to sizes that are vulnerable to other predators. In this thesis I describe two empirical studies that explore these possible effects of otters on ecosystem processes that have implications for ecosystem services. First I investigate the impact of greater kelp productivity on carbon flow and productivity by using stable isotope analysis on kelp, water samples, and mussels in regions where otters are absent and present. I observed that mussels do not consistently assimilate higher proportions of kelp-derived carbon and do not grow faster where otters are present and kelp more abundant. This finding may be explained partly because kelp does not seem to be limiting for mussel diets where otters are absent – high observed phytoplankton biomass may dilute the kelp-derived carbon assimilated in mussel tissue. The second study explores the impact of otters as predators of mussels by sampling mussel bed characteristics in regions along a gradient of time since otters established. Mussel bed characteristics vary predictably between regions: e.g., depth and biomass are lower in regions of comparably higher otter influence. Aggregate community biomass is also lower where otters are present, and differences in dominant species may drive differences in community structure between regions. By restricting mussels to smaller sizes, otters may also subject a greater proportion of mussel growth to predation by seastars, potentially facilitating a greater proportion of energy flow through marine food webs. Otter may increase secondary productivity only where primary productivity is limiting, and they seem to constrain the habitat provisioning services of mussels. This study’s quantitative characterization of otter impacts on an ecosystem engineer (mussels), and the intertidal habitat they provide, complements existing studies of otter impacts on subtidal ecosystem processes that affect ecosystem services.

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Navigating marine ecosystem services and values (2010)

It is broadly recognized that local knowledge and values should play a prominent role in natural resource decision-making. This research was based on the concept of ecosystem services (ES), which are the ecological processes through which nature provides benefits to people. A primary methodological research goal was to test an interview protocol to solicit the verbal articulation, spatial identification and a quantitative measure of local monetary values, non-monetary values and threat intensities associated with marine ES. This research identified and characterized a wide range of ways in which people value marine ecosystems in the Regional District of Mount Waddington in British Columbia, Canada to inform an ongoing marine spatial planning process.A total of 30 semi-structured interviews were conducted based on non-proportional quota sampling to target interviewees from across the district who have a variety of marine-related occupations.The interview protocol was successful in eliciting emotive expressions of the intangible benefits and values pertaining to ES. All interviewees verbally identified these benefits and values, but some (30%) refused to assign quantified non-monetary value to specific locations and others (16%) chose not to identify specific locations of non-monetary importance. Given that the spatial quantification of non-monetary values was not broadly acceptable, it is recommended that these research findings and methods complement deliberative processes to enable decision makers to more fully consider stakeholder’s non-monetary values and threats associated with ES. When explaining values and threats across the seascape, respondents bundled various services, benefits, and values associated with ecosystems. For articulating specific values, many used metaphors quite different form the implicit ES metaphor of nature as service provider. This protocol did not fully crowd out these alternative metaphors. Based on the spatial analysis, there was significant overlap among all three pair-wise comparisons of monetary values, non-monetary values, and threat intensity values. People tended to assign greater monetary and non-monetary value closest to inhabited locations. Employment in salmon aquaculture, the most divisive marine issue in the region, correlated with the perception that the ocean does not face environmental threat associated with this industry.

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Towards ecosystem-based management: integrating stakeholder values in decision-making and improving the representation of ecosystems in ecosystem models (2010)

Ecosystem-based management (EBM) is increasingly seen as the new paradigm for managing the use of marine resources and ecosystems. Although EBM has been defined in theory, its implementation has faced challenges worldwide. This research aims to examine two approaches to contribute to the operationzalization of EBM by incorporating stakeholder values in the decision-making process, and by better representing ecosystem dynamics in ecosystem models. First, I illustrate a decision-making framework for EBM rooted in structured decision-making (SDM), a well-known systematic approach for planning and stakeholder-consultation processes. SDM helps to identify the values of the constituents and define objectives and indicators that are consistent with those values. I demonstrate how SDM can enable managers to evaluate the performance of management alternatives using indicators specifically chosen to reflect values. This can help managers make more systematic, transparent and informed decisions with respect to the use of marine resources. As a case study, I apply SDM to the marine planning process on the west coast of Vancouver Island (WCVI). Second, as ecosystem models play an important role in EBM, I strive to improve the representation of marine ecosystems using ecosystem models in Ecopath with Ecosim (EwE). I focus on incorporating mediating effects and species reintroductions, both common situations that can strongly influence ecosystem dynamics. These considerations are essential when applying holistic approaches to management but they are not generally included in EwE. I use EwE to model the reintroduction of sea otters (Enhydra lutris) and the mediating effects provided by kelp forests in nearshore ecosystems of the WCVI. Because EwE does not have the functionality to represent reintroductions, I created two scenarios to work around the assumptions of Ecospace on the initial state of the ecosystem. In addition, I demonstrate how mediating effects can be represented using the ‘mediation’ function in Ecosim. These methods and results can contribute to advance EBM on the WCVI and offer insights to other marine planning processes. Both strengths and limitations of this work are presented and analyzed.

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