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Original article (peer-reviewed)

Journal Ecosystem Services
Volume (Issue) 13
Page(s) 173 - 183
Title of proceedings Ecosystem Services
DOI 10.1016/j.ecoser.2015.02.006


The concept of ecosystem services (ES) is broadly established in research and in communities of interest. The European Commission (EU) has embraced these conceptual approaches in order to provide policy makers with decision-supportive information concerning the supply of and demand for ES. It is, however, not yet clear how ES information should be represented to fulfill decision-supportive functions or even to process the data in such a manner that it is understandable. Knowledge about the ideal representation and communication of ES information integrated into decision support systems (DSSs) is particularly key for guiding users through such systems. In order to determine the correct representation type for a given situation and intended use, we developed a demand analysis, distributed through an online survey, to identify user demands for ES information. A principal component analysis depicts that requirements were highly heterogeneous among respondents of this study. Five components describing the representation type can, however, be identified, depending on the situation of application and the intended use of the ES information by the respondents: (1) 3D landscape visualizations are preferred for analyzing and exploring ES-related information; (2) texts and abstracts are preferred for communication and discussion support; (3) thematic 2D map representations are preferred to support scenario development in public applications; (4) abstract 3D landscape visualizations facilitate estimations in group applications; and (5) charts and tables, in combination with thematic 2D map representations, support analyses. However, while certain representation types are function- and/or situation-specific, no representation type can be used as a panacea. A demand analysis, as presented in this paper, can contribute to the definition of how ES information is to be integrated into DSSs and how it needs to be designed to be (decision-) supportive.