Assessing Risk to Ecosystem Services Production Along an Urbanization Gradient in Coastal South Florida

Geoff Cook, University of Central Florida, Biology, Orlando, United States and Chris R Kelble, Atlantic Oceanographic and Meteorological Laboratory - NOAA, Ocean Chemistry & Ecosystems Division, Miami, United States
A primary challenge for scientists and natural resource managers is to understand and assess sources of risk to the long-term sustainability of complex coastal ecosystems and the services they produce. To quantify how various near- and far-field pressures influence the production of ecosystem services in coastal south Florida, this study identifies sources of risk spanning an existing urbanization gradient. Using matrix- and network-based approaches we compare results from heavily urbanized Biscayne Bay, relatively suburban Charlotte Harbor/Estero Bay and Rookery Bay, and relatively undeveloped Florida Bay; thereby enabling a relative assessment of current and future sources of risk to coastal habitats, and their production of ecosystem services. This comparative analysis of near- and far-field pressures impacting the sustainability of coastal ecosystem services provides a method to evaluate potential restoration and management strategies that best mitigate impacts to coastal communities in South Florida, and creates a blueprint for transferring these methods to other coastal coupled natural-human systems.