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Marine ecosystem services: Linking indicators to their classification

Hattam, Caroline; Atkins, Jonathan P.; Beaumont, Nicola; Börger, Tobias; Böhnke-Henrichs, Anne; Burdon, Daryl; de Groot, Rudolf; Hoefnagel, Ellen; Nunes, Paulo A. L. D.; Piwowarczyk, Joanna; Sastre, Sergio; Austen, Melanie C.


Caroline Hattam

Nicola Beaumont

Tobias Börger

Anne Böhnke-Henrichs

Daryl Burdon

Rudolf de Groot

Ellen Hoefnagel

Paulo A. L. D. Nunes

Joanna Piwowarczyk

Sergio Sastre

Melanie C. Austen


© 2014 Elsevier Ltd. All rights reserved. There is a multitude of ecosystem service classifications available within the literature, each with its own advantages and drawbacks. Elements of them have been used to tailor a generic ecosystem service classification for the marine environment and then for a case study site within the North Sea: the Dogger Bank. Indicators for each of the ecosystem services, deemed relevant to the case study site, were identified. Each indicator was then assessed against a set of agreed criteria to ensure its relevance and applicability to environmental management. This paper identifies the need to distinguish between indicators of ecosystem services that are entirely ecological in nature (and largely reveal the potential of an ecosystem to provide ecosystem services), indicators for the ecological processes contributing to the delivery of these services, and indicators of benefits that reveal the realized human use or enjoyment of an ecosystem service. It highlights some of the difficulties faced in selecting meaningful indicators, such as problems of specificity, spatial disconnect and the considerable uncertainty about marine species, habitats and the processes, functions and services they contribute to.


Hattam, C., Atkins, J. P., Beaumont, N., Börger, T., Böhnke-Henrichs, A., Burdon, D., …Austen, M. C. (2015). Marine ecosystem services: Linking indicators to their classification. Ecological Indicators, 49, 61-75.

Journal Article Type Article
Acceptance Date Sep 8, 2014
Online Publication Date Oct 29, 2014
Publication Date 2015-02
Deposit Date May 5, 2015
Publicly Available Date May 5, 2015
Journal Ecological indicators
Print ISSN 1470-160x
Electronic ISSN 1872-7034
Publisher Elsevier
Peer Reviewed Peer Reviewed
Volume 49
Pages 61-75
Keywords Marine ecosystem services, Classification, Indicators, Functions, Benefits, Dogger Bank
Public URL
Publisher URL


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Copyright Statement
This is an open access article under the CC BY license (

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