Document Type


Date of Original Version



Biological Sciences


Lagoons are highly productive coastal features that provide a range of natural services that society values. Their setting within the coastal landscape leaves them especially vulnerable to profound physical, ecological, and associated societal disturbance from global climate change. Expected shifts in physical and ecological characteristics range from changes in flushing regime, freshwater inputs, and water chemistry to complete inundation and loss and the concomitant loss of natural and human communities. Therefore, managing coastal lagoons in the context of global climate change is critical. Although management approaches will vary depending on local conditions and cultural norms, all management scenarios will need to be nimble and to make full use of the spectrum of values through which society views these unique ecosystems. We propose that this spectrum includes pragmatic, scholarly, aesthetic, and tacit categories of value. Pragmatic values such as fishery or tourism revenue are most easily quantified and are therefore more likely to be considered in management strategies. In contrast, tacit values such as a sense of place are more difficult to quantify and therefore more likely to be left out of explicit management justifications. However, tacit values are the most influential to stakeholder involvement because they both derive from and shape individual experiences and beliefs. Tacit values underpin all categories of social values that we describe and can be expected to have a strong influence over human behavior. The articulation and inclusion of the full spectrum of values, especially tacit values, will facilitate and support nimble adaptive management of coastal lagoon ecosystems in the context of global climate change.


J. Stanley Cobb is affiliated with the Department of Biological Sciences.

Nicole E. Rohr and Candance Oviatt are affiliated with the Graduate School of Oceanography.

Peter V. August is affiliated with the Department of Natural Resources Science.

James J. Opaluch is affiliated with the Department of Environmental and Natural Resource Economics.

Judith Swift is affiliated with the Department of Communication Studies.