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Ecosystem Services of the British Columbia Coast: Modeling the Impacts of Agriculture on the Provision of Shellfish

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Title: Ecosystem Services of the British Columbia Coast: Modeling the Impacts of Agriculture on the Provision of Shellfish
Author: Solomon, Cody; Thompson, Allison
Issue Date: 2010-05-05
Citation: Solomon, Cody; Thompson, Allison. 2010. Ecosystem Services of the British Columbia Coast: Modeling the Impacts of Agriculture on the Provision of Shellfish Undergraduate Honours Thesis. Department of Earth and Ocean Sciences. University of British Columbia. http://hdl.handle.net/2429/24455
Abstract: The coastal ecosystems of British Columbia, Canada (BC) are highly impacted by human activities; this is due, in part, to a lack of understanding of the effects that multiple human activities may have on ecosystems and the services they provide for humans. Understanding the functioning of ecosystem services is important for both conservation efforts and natural resources management. We create a conceptual model of BC’s coastal ecosystem services and adopt a mechanistic approach to identifying and quantifying the linkages by which human activities may cumulatively impact ecosystem services. From this model we investigate the relationship between one human activity, agriculture, and one ecosystem service, the provision of shellfish, by identifying and quantifying the specific linkages between the two. We use a Geographic Information System (GIS) to model the impacts that agricultural runoff, in the form of nitrate, may have on the suitability of shellfish harvest sites (both wild and commercial) in BC. We use three different models to investigate the ways that nitrogenous runoff may cause changes to ecosystem functions, through eutrophication and the production of harmful algal blooms (HABs), HAB toxicity, and the subsequent closure of shellfish harvesting sites. From our results, we identify a trade-off between fertilizer use on agricultural land and potential production of shellfish in BC. A lack of spatially and temporally explicit data, along with uncertainty of the relationships in the literature, is the most important limitation to the applicability of our models to BC. We recommend further work investigating these relationships and an expansion of coastal monitoring systems in BC.
Affiliation: Earth and Ocean Sciences, Dept. of (EOS), Dept of
URI: http://hdl.handle.net/2429/24455
Peer Review Status: Unreviewed

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