Date of Award


Document Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)


Natural Resources

First Advisor

Taylor Ricketts


The need to protect diverse biological resources from ongoing development pressures is one of today's most pressing environmental challenges. In response, "ecosystem services" has emerged as a conservation framework that links human economies and natural systems through the benefits that people receive from nature. In this dissertation, I investigate the science-policy interface of ecosystem services in order to understand the use of ecosystem service decision support tools and evaluate the pathways through which ecosystem services knowledge impacts decisions. In the first paper, I track an ecosystem service valuation project in California to evaluate how the project changes the social capacity to make conservation-oriented decisions and how decision-makers intend to use ecosystem services knowledge. In a second project, I analyze a global sample of cases and identify factors that can explain the impact of ecosystem services knowledge on decisions. I find that the perceived legitimacy of knowledge (whether it is unbiased and representative of many diverse viewpoints) is an important determinant of whether the knowledge impacts policy processes and decisions. For the third project, I focus on the global use of spatial ecosystem service models. I analyze country-level factors that are associated with use and the effect of practitioner trainings on the uptake of these decision support tools. Taken together, this research critically evaluates how ecosystem service interventions perform. The results can inform the design of boundary organizations that effectively link conservation science with policy action, and guide strategic efforts to protect, restore, and enhance ecosystem services.



Number of Pages

187 p.