Rev. biol. mar. oceanogr. 49(2): 279-292


Incorporating expert knowledge for development spatial modeling in assessing ecosystem services provided by coral reefs: A tool for decision-making

Pedro C. Reyna-González1, Javier Bello-Pineda1, Leonardo Ortíz-Lozano1, Horacio Pérez-España1, Patricia Arceo1 and Jorge Brenner2

1Universidad Veracruzana,  Instituto  de  Ciencias  Marinas  y  Pesquerías, Calle Independencia  Nº  30,  2º  Piso,  Col.  Centro, C.P.  94290, Boca del Río, Veracruz, México
2The Nature Conservancy, Texas Program, 205 N. Carrizo St., Corpus Christi, Texas, 78401, United States of America

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Coral reefs provide coastal populations with valuable ecosystem services but few studies explore the spatial context in which those services are provided. This study presents a spatial modeling approach to assess ecosystem services provided by coral reefs. Our approach integrates spatial analysis tools and multi-criteria evaluation techniques to develop spatial models for assessing ecosystem services in the Parque Nacional Sistema Arrecifal Veracruzano (Veracruz Reef System National Park), incorporating local users´ knowledge. We compared the resulting models with both records of activities provided by park authorities, and information on distribution of fishing zones obtained from a workshop with fishermen. We found the models consistent with the actual uses within the system. This indicates that incorporating local users´ knowledge is useful in identifying, grouping, and evaluating ecosystem services in complex environments lacking hard data. This approach is an important contribution for the generation of zoning proposals and other management strategies in coral reef areas.

Key words:  Coral reefs, spatial models, ecosystem services, decision making