Monitoring Ecological Outcomes

Coastal habitat restoration projects are designed to rebuild ecological functions like habitat health, fish stocks, and sediment loads. Other coastal projects related to water or recreational infrastructure improvements are designed to address social issues like flooding or recreational access, however, they also can result in positive or negative ecological outcomes. To comprehensively understand the positive and negative outcomes of project implementation, ecological, social, and economic monitoring is recommended. And sometimes, combining social and economic monitoring data with ecological data provides a more nuanced picture of the range of outcomes resulting from coastal projects.

While not the focus of the GEMS project, the ecological outcomes of coastal projects are all tracked in the GEMS ecosystem service logic models. For many of these ecological outcomes monitoring guidance already exists. Sometimes, restoration projects also measure ecological and biophysical factors that affect project success, such as water salinity around oyster restoration projects. These factors do not appear in the GEMS ecosystem service logic models unless they are also expected to be influenced by the project.

If you are interested in monitoring ecological outcomes along with the social and economic outcomes identified in GEMS, please see resources below. This is not meant to be a comprehensive list, but rather a jumping off point for relevant ecological monitoring guidance for coastal projects in the Gulf of Mexico.