Methods for Modeling Ecosystem Services: A Review

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Abstract

Modeling ecosystem services (ES) is an essential tool for the development of strategies that will ensure their future supply, provision and quantification. Given the rapid development in this area of research, a review of the different approaches used to model ES was performed, using an analytical framework based on five criteria for comparing the existing methodological approaches: the types of ES, availability of data sources, spatial scale, types of models used and the possible outcomes of the models. Regulating services were the most commonly modeled, followed by provisioning, cultural, and supporting services. The most frequently used data for modeling were secondary data (already available from scientific literature or data banks). Most studies were performed at the regional or at a global scale. Mechinicist models, based on state and flow equations, were the most commonly used method, but the survey showed a relatively homogeneous distribution of all the identified types of modeling. The synthesis reveals that the majority of studies are based on secondary data, applied at broad scales, without validation techniques, similar to the existing information regarding the mapping of ESs.

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