An introduction to Bayesian networks as assessment and decision support tools for managing coral reef ecosystem services

Ocean & Coastal Management(2019)

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Abstract
Quantifying ecosystem goods and services can help evaluate policies aimed at protecting present and future generations from losing ecosystem benefits. Explicating and quantifying the relationships among risk factors, ecological structure and function, and delivery of ecosystem goods and services requires analytical methodologies that propagate uncertainties. The capabilities of Bayesian networks in generating predictions and accounting for uncertainty are explored with a focus on coral reef ecosystem service assessments. The qualitative aspects of Bayesian networks can be applied to conceptual frameworks developed for coral reef ecosystem service assessments. This is demonstrated using qualitative graphs that describe the relationships between coral reef condition endpoints and benefits from ecosystem services including property protection, recreational opportunities, fish for fisheries, and biochemical metabolites for commercial products developed from reef organisms. Bayesian networks help weigh uncertainties between management decision impacts on stressors and the corresponding delivery of ecosystem services. Quantitative capabilities for inferences are examined in hypothetical scenarios evaluating how decisions affect coral reef ecosystem services and economic benefits and resilience to episodic stress. The described methods facilitate visualizing the potential impacts on ecosystem services from alternative scenarios.
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Key words
Coral reefs,Ecosystem services,Total economic value,Probability,Uncertainty,Bayesian networks
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