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Shifting Baselines in Coastal Ecosystem Service Provision

Selim, Samiya (2015) Shifting Baselines in Coastal Ecosystem Service Provision. PhD thesis, University of Sheffield.

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Abstract

Coastal ecosystems provide vital suites of ecosystem services: food security, livelihoods, recreation, at global (e.g. climate regulation), regional (e.g. commercial fisheries) and local scales (e.g. recreation). The composition of these suites of services has clearly changed over time, as ecosystems have responded to natural and anthropogenic changes. Exploitation of these coastal ecosystems goes back centuries and many systems today are under stress from multiple sources including overfishing, pollution and climate change. Management strategies and policies are now focused on reversing these kinds of adverse effects and on restoring systems back to their ‘natural’ state. However, many of the changes that have occurred predate environmental surveys. It is difficult to set reference points and to define management policies when baselines on how ‘natural’ the system are constantly shifting. These shifting baselines mean that what we consider to be a ‘healthy’ ecosystem, with ‘optimal’ levels of Ecosystem Service provision, often lack historical context. A historical approach provides one means to parameterise such relationships. In this study I use the Yorkshire Coast of the North Sea as a case study to understand the links between drivers of change, ecosystem and the services they have provided over time. In this thesis, findings from interviews with stakeholders and from modelling long term data suggest that use of such historical data sources gives new insight into socio-ecological changes that occurs over time. It showed that there are shifting baselines and trade-offs in ecosystem services which can feed into management of future ecosystem services. It highlighted how fishermen’s perspective on changes in species and ecosystem match scientific survey data for some species, but there are shifting baselines in perceived changes. Findings on role of biodiversity in cultural ecosystem service show that it serves more of a supporting role as part of the wider seascape, rather than as recreational value related to specific aspects of biodiversity.

Item Type: Thesis (PhD)
Academic Units: The University of Sheffield > Faculty of Science (Sheffield) > Animal and Plant Sciences (Sheffield)
Identification Number/EthosID: uk.bl.ethos.679831
Depositing User: Ms Samiya Selim
Date Deposited: 16 Feb 2016 09:49
Last Modified: 12 Oct 2018 09:24
URI: http://etheses.whiterose.ac.uk/id/eprint/11935

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