A Resilience Framework for Chronic Exposures: Water Quality and Ecosystem Services in Coastal Social-Ecological Systems

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Water quality degradation is a chronic problem which influences the resilience of a social-ecological system differently than acute disturbances, such as disease or storms. Recognizing this, we developed a tailored resilience framework that applies ecosystem service concepts to coastal social-ecological systems affected by degraded water quality. We present the framework as a mechanism for coordinating interdisciplinary research to inform long-term community planning decisions pertaining to chronic challenges in coastal systems. The resulting framework connects the ecological system to the social system via ecological production functions and ecosystem services. The social system then feeds back to the ecological system via policies and interventions to address declining water quality. We apply our resilience framework to the coastal waters and communities of Cape Cod (Barnstable County, Massachusetts, USA) which are affected by nitrogen over-enrichment. This approach allowed us to design research to improve the understanding of the effectiveness and acceptance of water quality improvement efforts and their effect on the delivery of ecosystem services. This framework is intended to be transferable to other geographical settings and more generally applied to systems exposed to chronic disturbances in order to coordinate interdisciplinary research planning and inform coastal management.

Publication Title, e.g., Journal

Coastal Management