A comprehensive inventory of ecosystem services across the entire Great Lakes basin is currently lacking and is needed to make informed management decisions. A greater appreciation and understanding of ecosystem services, including both use and non-use services, may have avoided misguided resource management decisions in the past that resulted in negative legacies inherited by future generations. Given the interest in ecosystem services and lack of a coherent approach to addressing this topic in the Great Lakes, a summit was convened involving 28 experts working on various aspects of ecosystem services in the Great Lakes. The invited attendees spanned a variety of social and natural sciences. Given the unique status of the Great Lakes as the world's largest collective repository of surface freshwater, and the numerous stressors threatening this valuable resource, timing was propitious to examine ecosystem services. Several themes and recommendations emerged from the summit. There was general consensus that: 1) a comprehensive inventory of ecosystem services throughout the Great Lakes is a desirable goal but would require considerable resources; 2) more spatially and temporally intensive data are needed to overcome our data gaps, but the arrangement of data networks and observatories must be well-coordinated; 3) trade-offs must be considered as part of ecosystem services analyses; and 4) formation of a Great Lakes Institute for Ecosystem Services, to provide a hub for research, meetings, and training is desirable. Several challenges also emerged during the summit, which are discussed.
All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes
- Ecology, Evolution, Behavior and Systematics
- Aquatic Science