Nicholas Institute for Environmental Policy Solutions
Ecosystem Services Metrics - Coastal Systems
US National Park Service

Ecosystem Services Metrics - Coastal Systems

Resources for identifying and selecting ecosystem services metrics

Monitoring of biophysical and ecological metrics is relatively common in natural resource management, but metrics for ecosystem services-related outcomes are less common. Reporting on ecosystem services metrics can be a good way to tell the story of natural resource management projects by linking environmental data with things that people care about.

Ecosystem service conceptual models (ESCMs) can provide an entry point for selecting ecosystem service metrics relevant to an intervention because they illustrate the connection between management actions and different types of outcomes (see figure below). We distinguish between ecological, human activity, and socio-economic outcomes of natural resource management; each of which can be monitored using different metrics. Because ecological metrics are relatively common and are addressed by other resources, we primarily focus here on human activity and socioeconomic metrics (see Figure below).

metric diagram


Resource Type Description

Workshop guidance

For selecting metrics in a workshop setting, see sections 3 and 4 of our workshop guide.

Metric criteria

Criteria for assessing the utility and feasibility of ecosystem services metrics.

Metrics database External link

Example ecosystem services metrics from a workshop with NOAA.

Metrics protocols

Example metrics protocols developed for monitoring ecosystem services outcomes in the Gulf of Mexico. More about metrics.

Reference list Peer reviewed and gray literature references with ecosystem services metrics for coastal environments.

Use case: metrics selection

Example selection process for a common set of ecosystem services metrics for oyster reef restoration in the Gulf of Mexico.