Work Description:

Title: Understanding Ecosystem Services Adoption by Natural Resource Managers and Research Ecologists: Survey Data
Attribute NameValues
  • For data on how natural resource managers have adopted the ecosystem services (ES) paradigm, we used a web-based survey to collect responses from a stratified random sample of 1,041 resource managers in the Great Lakes basin. We designed the survey using Qualtrics Research Suite (, 2015) and distributed it via email. Respondents were informed that the survey was voluntary and that all data would be kept anonymous by aggregating and de-identifying the information. We designed survey questions to gather information on the relevance of ES to managers' work as well as their backgrounds, jurisdictions, and priorities. Most questions were closed-ended, while a few were open-ended, allowing the managers to respond more freely. We received 245/1041 responses from managers, a response rate of 23.5%. We interpret this to be a conservative representation of our target audience because our sampling methods likely led to some percentage of non-resource managers receiving an invitation to participate. Of these 245 respondents, 46.1% agreed to do the survey, self-identified themselves as a resource manager in the Great Lakes basin, and completed the survey, leaving a final sample size of 113 for analysis. For research ecologists, I used two methods for collecting data about my study subjects: interviews (not included here) and surveys. As with the managers, the online surveys were designed in Qualtrics Research Suite ( and distributed via email to the scientists following the interview. Survey responses were kept anonymous resulting in our not being able to connect individual responses between the interview and survey. The survey had primarily closed-response questions with a few open-ended questions allowing respondents to provide clarification for their responses. We designed questions to gain information regarding the ecologists' research, how ES might relate to their research, and their perspective on integrating ES into resource management. The interviews with research ecologists and associated data are not provided here because they include too much personally identifiable information. In one series of questions important to the analysis, we presented a list of 32 ES and asked the managers and ecologist to rate the relevance of each ES from 0 (Strongly Unrelated to their research) to 4 (Strongly Related). In this series of questions questions, we used a Qualtrics tool called a slider bar on which the respondents could select any decimal from 0 to 4 down to the hundredths place, making it a functionally continuous variable. This list of ES was adapted from the Millennium Ecosystem Assessment's list of ES (2005).
  • This dataset was compiled as an attempt to understand how natural resource managers and research ecologists in the Great Lakes region integrate the ecosystem services (ES) paradigm into their work. The following text is the adapted abstract from a thesis associated with this data. Ecosystem services, or the benefits people obtain from ecosystems, have gained much momentum in natural resource management in recent decades as a relatively comprehensive approach to provide quantitative tools for improving decision-making and policy design. However, to date we know little about whether and how natural resource practitioners, from natural resource managers to research ecologists (hereafter managers and ecologist respectively), have adopted the ES paradigm into their respective work. Here, we addressed this knowledge gap by asking managers and ecologists about whether and how they have adopted the ES paradigm into their respective work. First, we surveyed federal, state, provincial and tribal managers in the Great Lakes region about their perception and use of ES as well as the relevance of specific services to their work. Although results indicate that fewer than 31% of the managers said they currently consider economic values of ES, 79% of managers said they would use economic information on ES if they had access to it. Additionally, managers reported that ES-related information was generally inadequate for their resource management needs. We also assessed managers by dividing them into identifiable groups (e.g. managers working in different types of government agencies or administrative levels) to evaluate differential ES integration. Overall, results suggest a desire among managers to transition from considering ES concepts in their management practices to quantifying economic metrics, indicating a need for practical and accessible valuation techniques. Due to a sample of opportunity at the USGS Great Lakes Science Center (GLSC), we also evaluated GLSC research ecologists’ integration of the ES paradigm because they play an important role by contributing requisite ecological knowledge for ES models. Managers and ecologists almost unanimously agreed that it was appropriate to consider ES in resource management and also showed convergence on the high priority ES. However, ecologists appeared to overestimate the adequacy of ES-related information they provide as managers reported the information was inadequate for their needs. This divergence may reflect an underrepresentation of ecological economists in this system who can aid in translating ecological models into estimates of human well-being. As a note, both CSV files in this dataset have two tabs: 1) the raw data, and 2) an index describing each column. The dataset for the research ecologists has had some data removed as it could be considered personally identifiable information due to the small sample size in that population. The surveys associated with both datasets have also been included in PDF format.
  • Schaeffer, Jeff
  • Engel, Daniel D
  • Low, Bobbi S
  • Evans, Mary Anne
Contact Information
  • Social Sciences
  • Science
Funding Agency
  • Other Funding Agency
  • Decision-Making
  • Paradigm Adoption
  • Research Ecologist
  • Ecosystem Services
  • Natural Resource Management
  • Ecological Economics
Date coverage
  • 2014-06 to 2014-09
Citation to related material
  • DOI:10.1016/j.jglr.2017.01.005
  • English
  • doi:10.7302/Z2FF3QJ9
  • Open Access