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Place-Based Ecosystem Management: Adapting Integrated Ecosystem Assessment Processes for Developing Scientifically and Socially Relevant Indicator Portfolios

February 02, 2021

We reviewed indicator development case studies from seven different social-ecological systems over the first 10 years of the NOAA integrated ecosystem assessment program, with the goals of identifying effective strategies.

Developing a comprehensive portfolio of theoretically sound indicators is fundamental to effective place-based management of coastal ecosystems at a wide range of scales. We reviewed indicator development case studies from seven different social-ecological systems over the first 10 years of the NOAA integrated ecosystem assessment program, with the goals of identifying effective strategies and highlighting general principles that would inform future efforts. The assessment framework provided a versatile approach to developing indicators across a diverse range of differently scaled systems and partnerships, guided by organizing principles of screening transparency, iterative review, and an adaptive balance between quantitative evaluation methods and qualitative stakeholder guidance. Information exchange across the broad community of ecosystem-based management practitioners facilitated progress between systems, chronologically tracking a path that reflected improvements in indicator development methods (especially for social indicators) and a growing focus on multisector ecosystem-based management in smaller coastal communities. Most projects adopted innovative visual imagery to engage partners and stakeholders, which built trust and communication while enhancing the spectrum of indicators. Using guidance from the lessons above, future indicator development efforts will be better prepared to confront the recurring, transdisciplinary challenges of managing integrated social-ecological systems.


Williams GD, Andrews KS, Brown JA, Gove JM, Hazen EL, Leong KM, Montenero KA, Moss JH, Rosellon-Druker JM, Schroeder ID, Siddon E. 2021. Place-Based Ecosystem Management: Adapting Integrated Ecosystem Assessment Processes for Developing Scientifically and Socially Relevant Indicator Portfolios. Coastal Management. 49(1):46-71.  https://doi.org/10.1080/08920753.2021.1846154.

Last updated by Pacific Islands Fisheries Science Center on 06/02/2021

Ecosystems West Hawaii Integrated Ecosystem Assessment