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Idaho State University

Predicting impacts of future policy-based land use scenarios on
Idaho’s Ecosystem Services and implications for human wellbeing


Idaho State University Participants

Antonio J. Castro, Cristina Quintas-Soriano (Postdoc), Sara Bernardini (Graduate Student), Dainee Gibson (Graduate Student), Katrina Running (ISU)

Partners and Affilation

Professor Jodi Brandt (BSU), Jenna Narducci (BSU, Graduate Student)

Research Problem

Population in Idaho is predicted to grow rapidly in the next two decades. However, the different land use policies that will influence where and how Idaho's cities will grow is not well understood. The urban growth will impact the ecosystem services that the landscape can provide, including water quality and quantity, agriculture production, air quality, biodiversity, and recreational opportunities. However, the extent to which urbanization will impact ecosystem services in these cities is unknown, nor is known the trade-offs among different ecosystem services and their implications for human wellbeing. The overarching objective of our project is to help guide future land use policy in Idaho’s cities by quantifying ecosystem services impacts and trade-offs resulting from different policy scenarios.

Research Outcomes

We have three specific objectives. First (Land Use Scenarios), we will determine what drives patterns of past urban growth, project urban land use in the future, and identify plausible scenarios of land use change based on existing and potential land use policy at each site. Second (Ecosystem Services Valuation), we will quantify the biophysical capacity of landscapes to provide services (supply) as well as explore their sociocultural and economic value (demand). Third (Synthesis), we will measure how different future land use scenarios impact ecosystem services supply and demand.

Potential Impacts

We will tailor our results so that they can be used by land managers to help identify areas in Idaho where ecosystem services are declining or priority areas for conservation. Additionally, our results will be useful in detecting potential conflicts among stakeholders’ groups associated with new management and planning practices. Our project will increase partnership and mentoring relationships among MILES researchers. A key idea and expectation of this project is all personnel involved will collaborate together with all goals to create an interdisciplinary mentoring and team science partnership between the three institutions. For example, an ISU MS student specialized in ES mapping across MILES sites will also work with social surveys in Boise and Moscow


Additional Information

This project is essential for the development of an ongoing international collaboration within The Program on Ecosystem Change and Society (PECS), jointly sponsored by ICSU and UNESCO.

The MILES program, including the three sites, has been integrated as key component of a PECS-endorsed project, the WaterSES project (Water scarcity across watershed Social-Ecological Systems), an international and interdisciplinary group working to understand and compare the social-ecological dynamics causing, and caused by, water scarcity across watersheds in Spain, Oklahoma and Idaho, with the goal of finding sustainable solutions to balance the water needs of nature and society.

Visit the "The Social-Ecological Research Lab" for more information