that were most relevant to the GoM. Representatives from academic institutions, non-governmental organizations, private enterprise, and state and federal governments contributed to the discussion and identified 19 ecosystem services contributed by the GoM (listed in Table 3.1). The committee used the output of the Bay St. Louis Ecosystem Services Workshop as a starting place for its discussion of what services were relevant for the Gulf and then went through its own deliberations in order to refine the list. A complete discussion of the baseline data for each of these ecosystem services is far beyond the scope of this interim report. We will thus focus our discussion of baselines on representative examples of ecosystem services important in the GoM. This discussion is not comprehensive, but rather highlights examples of key parameters that have been or can be measured to ascertain GoM ecosystem services prior to the DWH oil spill. These examples may also be used as a guideline for how to approach the complex problem of determining changes in ecosystem services following the DWH oil spill. For each service, a brief description of the current state of knowledge is provided, followed by a description of the primary parameters that can be measured and the state-of-the-art methods for conducting the measurements. Where possible, references have been provided to databases and publications that may contain relevant information for comparison of ecosystem services before and after the spill. Some of these ecosystem services are understood better than others, as is apparent in the variation in the depth of coverage for the different sections that follow.

TABLE 3.1 List of Ecosystem Servicesa Identified at the “GoM Ecosystem Services Workshop”


Nutrient Balance (Supporting)

Medicinal Resources (Provisioning)

Hydrological Balance (Supporting)

Ornamental Resources (Provisioning)

Climate Balance (Regulating)

Science and Education (Cultural)

Pollutant Attenuation (Regulating)

Biological Interactions (Supporting)

Gas Balance (Supporting)

Soil and Sediment Balance (Supporting)

Water Quality (Regulating)

Spiritual and Historic (Cultural)

Water Quantity (Supporting)

Aesthetics and Existence (Cultural)

Air Supply (Regulating)

Recreational Opportunities (Cultural)

Food (Provisioning)

Hazard Moderation (Regulating)

Raw Materials (Provisioning)


aThe committee acknowledges that the use of the term “balance” for some ecosystem services identified in Table 3.1 is a simplification of the ecological processes and functions and may not capture all of the complex interactions that take place within and between various ecosystems.
SOURCE: Yoskowitz et al., 2010.



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