. "5 Translating Ecosystem Functions to the Value of Ecosystem Services: Case Studies." Valuing Ecosystem Services: Toward Better Environmental Decision-Making. Washington, DC: The National Academies Press, 2004.
clean air, clean water, recreation, ecotourism). Economic geographers and regional scientists (e.g., Isard et al., 1969) examined spatial relationships among natural and socioeconomic systems. Recent work on ecosystem services has broadened the set of goods and services studied to include water purification, nutrient retention, and flood control, among other things. It has also emphasized the importance of understanding natural processes within ecosystems (e.g., primary and secondary productivity, carbon and nutrient cycling, energy flow) in order to understand the production of ecosystem services. Yet, as discussed throughout this report, for the most part, the importance of these natural processes in producing ecosystem services on which people depend has remained largely invisible to decision-makers and the general public. For most ecosystem services, there are no markets and no readily observable prices, and most people are unaware of their economic value. All too often it is the case that the value of ecosystem services becomes apparent only after such services are diminished or lost, which occurs once the natural processes supporting the production of these services have been sufficiently degraded. For example, the economic importance of protecting coastal marshes that serve as breeding grounds for fish may become apparent only after commercial fish harvests decline. By then, it may be difficult or impossible to repair the damage and restore the production of such services.
Although there has been great progress in ecology in understanding ecosystem processes and functions, and in economics in developing and applying nonmarket valuation techniques for their subsequent valuation, at present there often remains a gap between the two. There has been mutual recognition among at least some ecologists and some economists that addressing issues such as conserving ecosystems and biodiversity requires the input of both disciplines to be successful (Daily et al., 2000; Holmes et al., 2004; Kinzig et al., 2000; Loomis et al., 2000; Turner et al., 2003). Yet there are few existing examples of studies that have successfully translated knowledge of ecosystems into a form in which economic valuation can be applied in a meaningful way (Polasky, 2002). Several factors contribute to this ongoing lack of integration. First, some ecologists and economists have held vastly different views on the current state of the world and the direction in which it is headed (see, for example, Tierney, 1990, who chronicles the debates between a noted ecologist and economist [Paul Ehrlich and Julian Simon]). Second, ecology and economics are separate disciplines, one in natural science and the other in social science. Traditionally, the academic organization and reward structure for scientists make collaboration across disciplinary boundaries difficult even when the desire to do so exists. Third, as noted previously, the concept of ecosystem services and attempts to value them are still relatively new. Building the necessary working relationships and integrating methods across disciplines will take time.
Some useful integrated studies of the value of aquatic and related terrestrial ecosystem goods and services are starting to emerge. The following section reviews several such studies and the types of evaluation methods used. This review begins with situations in which the focus is on valuing a single ecosys-