Atlantic Salmon (Salmo salar) has always been a highly valued migratory fish species in central and northern Europe. Wild populations have declined since the late 19th century, including local extinctions. We conducted an online survey in France, Germany, Sweden and Norway (N = 2 298) to examine the perception of the general public of the socio-cultural ecosystem services provided by this threatened species. Eleven ecosystem services and benefits were operationalized in the form of 13 survey items and grouped by an exploratory factor analysis into three groups: intrinsic-ecological, extractive and aesthetic-educational ecosystem services. Our analysis showed that the general population perceived a wide range of ecosystem services. Intrinsic-ecological and aesthetic-educational ecosystem services were well recognized in all countries. The values of these two categories were determined most strongly by country and respondents’ personal values and perception of Atlantic Salmon, e.g. as threatened and belonging to a healthy river. The high level of approval for aesthetic-educational ecosystem services confirmed that Atlantic Salmon can serve as a charismatic flagship species. Extractive ecosystem services received lower ratings than intrinsic-ecological and aesthetic-educational ones, particularly in Germany where no natural populations remain. In Norway, the country with the highest proportion of healthy stocks and a close cultural connection to Atlantic Salmon, all ecosystem service categories were rated significantly higher than in the other three countries. Synergies between the ecosystem services of Atlantic Salmon explain these results: with healthy stocks and their extractive use, the cultural connection is also strengthened, and this contributes to a greater appreciation of Atlantic Salmon for intrinsic-ecological and aesthetic-cultural reasons. Our study underscores how the ecosystem services of Atlantic Salmon perceived by society are co-produced by the ecological state and continued experience of the species by the wider public. Improving the ecological status and increasing public awareness can therefore foster the development of perceived ecosystem services and the value of a species in the public eye.
Perceived socio-cultural ecosystem services provided by wild Atlantic Salmon populations in four European countries
Kochalski, S., Riepe, C., Arlinghaus, R. 2022. Perceived socio-cultural ecosystem services provided by wild Atlantic Salmon populations in four European countries. Aquatic Ecosystem Health and Management, 25(3), 12-21.
Erschienen in : Aquatic Ecosystem Health and Management, 25(3), 12-21