Ecosystem Services: Quantification, Valuation, and Markets

We provide a seamless integration of economic and ecological experience and capabilities to analyze ecosystem services. Through our support for US EPA (including the Office of Air Quality Planning and Standards, Office of Research and Development, Office of Water, Office of Policy, and the Climate Change Division), the US Department of the Interior, and other public and private sector organizations, we have established a strong and proven track record in several key areas of research.

These areas include the development of innovative models and tools for classifying, mapping, quantifying, and valuing ecosystem services. They also include optimization and analytical methods for designing and evaluating markets for ecosystem services.

Focus Areas

  • Ecological risk and exposure assessment
  • Economic valuation of ecosystem services
  • Water quality trading
  • Atmospheric deposition impacts, including acidification and eutrophication
  • Classification systems for ecosystem services
  • Climate change impacts and carbon sequestration services
  • Markets and payments for ecosystem services

Capabilities

  • Quantification and valuation of ecosystem services using stated preference surveys, revealed preference methods,  and benefit transfer applications
  • Economic analysis and optimization modeling, integrating costs and ecosystem services
  • Water quality modeling, including application of statistical (e.g., SPARROW), intermediate (e.g., GWLF), and process (e.g., HSPF and SWAT) models
  • Watershed flow and allocation modeling (WaterFALL™) for ecological flow development and classification over EPA's enhanced National Hydrography Dataset (NHDPlus) hydrologic network
  • Forest ecosystem modeling, including predictive modeling of acidifying atmospheric deposition critical loads and soil chemistry modeling using PROFILE to predict base-cation weathering
  • GIS-based impacts analysis of land use land classification (LULC) changes, including spatial statistical analysis
  • Defense installations sustainability research and strategic planning

Projects

  • Quantification and Valuation of Ecosystem Services for EPA's NOx/SOx Secondary Standards Review
  • An Optimization Approach to Evaluate the Role of Ecosystem Services in Chesapeake Bay Restoration Strategies
  • Economic Valuation Study of Klamath River Basin Restoration
  • Economic Analysis of  Nutrient Credit Trading for the Chesapeake Bay
  • Assessment of Ecosystem Service Credit Stacking Involving Carbon Offsets
  • Development of a National Ecosystem Services Classification System (NESCS)
  • Metrics and Indicators of Final Ecosystem Goods and Services (FEGS)
  • Design of Environmental Credit Protocols
  • Modeling Risks to Forest Ecosystem Services for EPA’s Ozone Secondary Standards Review

Conference Presentations and Sponsorship

  • RTI Sponsorship: Community for Ecosystem Services Conferences in Phoenix, AZ (December 2010) and Ft. Lauderdale, FL (December 2012).
  • Assessment of atmospheric nitrogen deposition on estuarine nutrient enrichment using modeling and monitoring. Presented at AWRA 2010 Spring Specialty Conference—GIS and Water Resources, Orlando, FL. Cutrofello M, Little K, Deerhake ME, Waite RG, Rea A (March 2010).
  • Considering ecosystem services co-benefits in strategies to restore the Chesapeake Bay. Presented at A Community for Ecosystem Services conference, Phoenix, AZ. Messer J, Wolcott R, Wainger L, Deerhake M, Van Houtven G, Wood D, Loomis RJ, Morin I, Zoltay V (December 2010).
  • Impacts of nitrogen and sulfur deposition on the growth of sugar maple and red spruce in the United States. Poster presented at Ecological Society of America Conference, Albuquerque, NM. Phelan JN, Sinha P, Cajka J, Van Houtven GL, Deerhake ME, Waite RG, Rea AW, Tennant GM (August 2009).