Transparent and feasible uncertainty assessment adds value to applied ecosystem services modeling

Benjamin P. Bryant*, Mark E. Borsuk, Perrine Hamel, Kirsten L. L. Oleson, C. J. E. Schulp, Simon Willcock

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to JournalReview articleAcademicpeer-review


We introduce a special issue that aims to simultaneously motivate interest in uncertainty assessment (UA) and reduce the barriers practitioners face in conducting it. The issue, “Demonstrating transparent, feasible, and useful uncertainty assessment in ecosystem services modeling,” responds to findings from a 2016 workshop of academics and practitioners that identified challenges and potential solutions to enhance the practice of uncertainty assessment in the ES community. Participants identified that one important gap was the lack of a compelling set of cases showing that UA can be feasibly conducted at varying levels of sophistication, and that such assessment can usefully inform decision-relevant modeling conclusions. This article orients the reader to the 11 other articles that comprise the special issue, and which span multiple methods and application domains, all with an explicit consideration of uncertainty. We highlight the value of UA demonstrated in the articles, including changing decisions, facilitating transparency, and clarifying the nature of evidence. We conclude by suggesting ways to promote further adoption of uncertainty analysis in ecosystem service assessments. These include: Easing the analytic workflows involved in UA while guarding against rote analyses, applying multiple models to the same problem, and learning about the conduct and value of UA from other disciplines.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)103-109
Number of pages7
JournalEcosystem Services
Issue numberPart B
Early online date17 Sept 2018
Publication statusPublished - Oct 2018


Benjamin Bryant was supported by the Ishiyama Foundation and the Marianne and Marcus Wallenberg Foundation. Perrine Hamel was supported by the Marianne and Marcus Wallenberg Foundation.

FundersFunder number
Ishiyama Foundation
National Socio-Environmental Synthesis Center
Natural Environment Research CouncilNE/L001152/1
Marianne and Marcus Wallenberg Foundation


    • Best practice
    • Ecosystem service
    • Fit-for-purpose
    • Impact assessment
    • Uncertainty
    • Validation


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