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Kenneth Bagstad

Research Economist

Contact Info

Short Biography

Ken Bagstad is a Research Economist and former Mendenhall Postdoctoral Fellow working with the U.S. Geological Survey’s Geosciences & Environmental Change Science Center in Denver.  For this work, he uses GIS and modeling to quantify, map, and value ecosystem service flows in diverse case study regions across the United States.  He is also working to integrate biophysically modeled ecosystem services, primarily using the Artificial Intelligence for Ecosystem Services (ARIES) tool with cultural ecosystem services obtained using the Social Values for Ecosystem Services (SolVES) tool in support of resource management for the National Park Service, USDA Forest Service, and Bureau of Land Management.  He has previously worked as a postdoctoral associate with the USGS and Bureau of Land Management on testing alternative ecosystem services tools, including the ARIES and InVEST models, for their value in decision-making for public land management.  Ken has also led the development of source, sink, and use models and spatial data management for the NSF-funded ARIES project, which is building a series of web-accessible tools to map, assess, and value ecosystem services for environmental decision-making.


Ken received his Ph.D. (Natural Resources, certificate in ecological economics) from the University of Vermont in 2009.  His Ph.D. work spanned several themes in ecological economics, including the science, economics, and policy of ecosystem services, use of the Genuine Progress Indicator (GPI) at local scales in Vermont and Ohio, and the effects of tax and subsidy policies on coastal development patterns. Ken has assisted in ecosystem service valuation studies for Louisiana, Washington State, and Ontario, advised researchers working on GPI studies for Michigan and Utah, and explored markets and ecosystem service-based funding mechanisms for ecological restoration in Illinois, Washington State, and Costa Rica.  He received his M.S. from Arizona State University (Plant Biology, concentration in ecology) in 2002, studying the conflicts between groundwater pumping and ecosystem health of the San Pedro River in southeastern Arizona, focusing specifically on riparian plant communities. Following his Master’s work, Ken worked as an environmental consultant in Chicago, Illinois, and was active in restoration of native wetland, prairie, and savanna ecosystems in the Midwestern U.S.  Ken received a B.A. from Ohio Wesleyan University (Botany and Environmental Studies majors) in 1999, where he conducted research on tropical plant taxonomy in Central and South America.


Bagstad, K.J., D. Semmens, F. Villa, and G.W. Johnson. In press. Quantifying and valuing ecosystem services: An application of ARIES to the San Pedro River basin, USA. Forthcoming in: Nunes, P.A.L.D., P. Kumar, and T. Dedeurwaerdere, eds., Handbook on the Economics of Biodiversity and Ecosystem Services, Edward Elgar: Cheltenham, UK.

Diffendorfer, J.E., J.B. Loomis, L. Ries, K. Oberhauser, L. López-Hoffman, D. Semmens, B. Semmens, B. Butterfield, K.J. Bagstad, J. Goldstein, R. Wiederholt, B. Mattsson, and W.E. Thogmartin. In press. National valuation of monarch butterflies indicates an untapped potential for incentive-based conservation. Forthcoming in: Conservation Letters. [Link]

López-Hoffman, L., R. Wiederholt, C. Sansone, K.J. Bagstad, P. Cryan, J.E. Diffendorfer, J. Goldstein, K. LaSharr, J. Loomis, G. McCracken, R.A. Medellín, A. Russell, and D. Semmens. 2014. Market forces and technological substitutes cause fluctuations in the value of bat pest-control services for cotton. PLoS ONE 9(2):e87912. [Link]

Villa, F., K.J. Bagstad, B. Voigt, G.W. Johnson, R. Portela, M. Honzak, and D. Batker. 2014. A methodology for adaptable and robust ecosystem services assessment. PLoS ONE 9(3):e91001. [Link]

Batker, D., I. de la Torre, R. Costanza, J.W. Day, R. Boumans, and K.J. Bagstad. In press. The threats to the value of ecosystem goods and services of the Mississippi Delta. Forthcoming in: Perspectives on the restoration of the Mississippi Delta. J. Day, G.P. Kemp, A. Freeman, and D.P. Muth, eds. Springer: New York.

Bagstad, K.J., F. Villa, D. Batker, J. Harrison-Cox, B. Voigt, and G. Johnson. In press. From theoretical to actual ecosystem services: Accounting for beneficiaries and spatial flows to map and quantify ecosystem services. Forthcoming in: Ecology and Society.

Bagstad, K.J., G.W. Johnson, B. Voigt, and F. Villa. 2013. Spatial dynamics of ecosystem service flows: A comprehensive approach to quantifying actual services. Ecosystem Services 4: 117-125. [Link]

Bagstad, K.J., D. Semmens, S. Waage, and R. Winthrop. 2013. A comparative assessment of tools for ecosystem services quantification and valuation. Ecosystem Services 5: 27-39. [Link]

Bagstad, K.J., D. Semmens, and R. Winthrop. 2013. Comparing approaches to spatially explicit ecosystem service modeling: A case study from the San Pedro River, Arizona. Ecosystem Services 5: 40-50. [Link]

Bagstad, K.J. and R. Wiederholt. 2013. Tourism values for Mexican free-tailed bat (Tadarida brasiliensis mexicana) viewing. Human Dimensions of Wildlife 18 (4): 307-311. [Link]

Johnson, G.W., K.J. Bagstad, R. Snapp, and F. Villa. 2012. Service Path Attribution Networks (SPANs): A network flow approach to ecosystem service assessment. International Journal of Agricultural and Environmental Information Systems 3 (2): 54-71. [Link]

Bagstad, K.J. and R. Shammin. 2012. Can the Genuine Progress Indicator better inform sustainable regional progress? - A case study for Northeast Ohio. Ecological Indicators 18: 330-341. [Link]

Johnson, G.W., R.R. Snapp, F. Villa, and K.J. Bagstad. 2012. Modelling ecosystem service flows under uncertainty with stochastic SPAN. Pp. 1021-1028 in: R. Seppelt, A.A. Voinov, S. Lange, and D. Bankamp, eds., Proceedings of the 2012 International Congress on Environmental Modelling and Software. ISBN: 978-88-9035-742-8. [Link]

Bagstad, K.J., D.J. Semmens, and C. van Riper, III. 2012. Ecosystem services science and policy in arid and semiarid environments: Opportunities and challenges for the Colorado Plateau. Pp. 61-79 in: The Colorado Plateau V: Research, environmental planning, and management for effective conservation. C. van Riper, III, M.L. Villarreal, C.J. van Riper, and M.J. Johnson, eds. University of Arizona Press: Tucson. [Link]

Bagstad, K.J., D. Semmens, R. Winthrop, D. Jaworski, and J. Larson. 2012. Ecosystem services valuation to support decision making on public lands: A case study for the San Pedro River, Arizona. USGS Scientific Investigations Report 2012-5251. [Link]

Villa, F., K.J. Bagstad, G. Johnson, and B. Voigt. 2011. Scientific instruments for climate change adaptation: estimating and optimizing the efficiency of ecosystem services provision. Economía Agraria y Recursos Naturales 11 (1): 83-98. [Link]

Batker, D., de la Torre, I., Costanza, R., Swedeen, P., Day, J., Boumans, R., and Bagstad, K.J. 2010. Gaining ground: Wetlands, hurricanes, and the economy: The value of restoring the Mississippi River Delta. Environmental Law Reporter 40 ELR 11106-11110. [Link]

Daniels, A.E., Bagstad, K.J., Esposito, V., Moulaert, A., and Manuel Rodriguez, C. 2010. Understanding the impacts of Costa Rica’s PES: Are we asking the right questions? Ecological Economics 69 (11): 2116-2126. [Link]

Johnson, G.W., K.J. Bagstad, R. Snapp, and F. Villa. 2010. Service Path Attribution Networks (SPANs): Spatially quantifying the flow of ecosystem services from landscapes to people. Lecture Notes in Computer Science 6016: 238-253. [Link]

Stromberg, J.C., K.J. Bagstad, and E. Makings. 2009. Floristic Diversity. In: Ecology and conservation of the San Pedro River. J.C. Stromberg and B. Tellman, eds. University of Arizona Press: Tucson. [Link]

Bagstad, K.J. and M. Ceroni. 2008. The Genuine Progress Indicator: A new measure of economic development for the Northern Forest. Adirondack Journal of Environmental Studies 15 (1): 21-29. [Link]

Bagstad, K.J. and M. Ceroni. 2007. Opportunities and challenges in applying the GPI/ISEW at local scales. International Journal of Environment, Workplace, and Employment 3 (2): 132-153. [Link]

Bagstad, K.J., K. Stapleton, and J.R. D’Agostino. 2007. Taxes, subsidies, and insurance as drivers of United States coastal development. Ecological Economics 63: 285-298. [Link]

Bagstad, K.J., S.J. Lite, and J.C. Stromberg. 2006. Vegetation and hydro-geomorphology of riparian patch types of a dryland river. Western North American Naturalist 66: 23-44. [Link]

Bagstad, K.J. 2006. Valuing ecosystem services in the Chicago region. Chicago Wilderness Journal 4 (2): 18-26. [Link]

Stromberg, J.C., K.J. Bagstad, E. Makings, S.J. Lite, and J. Leenhouts. 2005. Effect of decline in stream flow duration on channel vegetation of a semi-arid region river (San Pedro River, Arizona). River Research & Application 21 (8): 925-938. [Link]

Lite, S.J., K.J. Bagstad, and J.C. Stromberg. 2005. Riparian plant richness and abundance across gradients of water stress and flood disturbance, San Pedro River, Arizona, USA. Journal of Arid Environments 63 (4): 785-813. [Link]

Bagstad, K.J., J.C. Stromberg, and S.J. Lite. 2005. Response of herbaceous riparian plant functional groups to flooding of the San Pedro River, Arizona. Wetlands 25 (1): 210-223. [Link]

Roberts, B.R., H.F. Decker, K.J. Bagstad, and K.A. Peterson. 2001. Bio-solid residues as soilless media for growing wildflower sod. HortTechnology 11(2): 194-199. [Link]

Bagstad, K.J. and D.M. Johnson. 1999. Taxonomy of Xylopia barbata (Annonaceae) and related species from the Amazon/Orinoco region. Contributions of the University of Michigan Herbarium 22:21-29.


My Science Topics

Science Topic
Ecology and Environmentdeserts
Ecology and Environmentbiogeography
Ecology and Environmentbiodiversity
Ecology and Environmentecological processes
Ecology and Environmentecosystem functions
Ecology and Environmentecosystems
Ecology and Environmentenvironmental assessment
Environmental Issuesland use
Environmental Issuesland use change
Environmental Issuesrecreation
Geographic Analysis and Mappinggeospatial analysis
Geographic Analysis and Mappingspatial analysis
Geologic Processeserosion
Geologic Processessedimentation
Water Resourcesfloods
Water Resourceswater supply and demand
Techniques and Methodsgeographic information systems (GIS)
Techniques and Methodsmathematical modeling
Techniques and Methodsmathematical simulation
Techniques and Methodsstatistical analysis
Plants and Animalsmigratory species
Oceans and Coastlinescoastal ecosystems
Oceans and Coastlinesmarine fisheries

My USGS Science Strategy Areas

Understanding Ecosystems & Predicting Ecosystems Change

Climate Variability & Change

A Water Census of the United States

A National Hazard, Risk, and Resilience Assessment Program

Modeling and economic valuation of ecosystem services

Project Description:


When economic decisions lack full information about stakeholders, costs, and benefits, they are more likely to produce socially inefficient outcomes (Ligmann-Zielinska 2008, Polasky et al. 2008). Understanding the spatial dynamics of ecosystem services can enable analysts to better evaluate tradeoffs in land management by showing which regions are critical to maintaining the supply and flows of particular benefits for specific beneficiary groups. The recent state of the practice – static maps of ecosystem service provision – fails to account for spatial flows of ecosystem services from ecosystems to their human beneficiaries (Tallis 2008). A more realistic and policy-relevant approach to ecosystem services assessment starts by mapping ecosystem services production and beneficiaries, then accounting for the spatial flow of benefits from ecosystems to people (Bagstad et al. 2013). This approach requires new language and modeling approaches, but promises to provide a much more realistic view of society’s dependence on ecosystem services.


By prioritizing conservation and restoration activities around areas that provide services and flows, these flows may be maintained or increased. Conversely, focusing development or extractive resource use outside these regions can minimize degradation of ecosystem service flows. By identifying parties that benefit from or degrade benefit flows, results can provide guidance to economic incentive programs including payments for ecosystem services (Engel et al. 2008). Flow maps can help identify potential demand for ecosystem services, increasing the potential to “stack” or “bundle” ecosystem services within incentive systems.

As part of a larger research team including scientists within and beyond USGS, I have worked on a variety of case studies to use ecosystem service information to inform resource management.  I have worked on case studies using the Artificial Intelligence for Ecosystem Services (ARIES) modeling framework (Villa et al. 2009) in Arizona, Colorado, and Washington State. Further, we are working to generalize case study-based models to extend geographic coverage to the entire United States, using national datasets developed by USGS and others and an intelligent modeling infrastructure capable of adding or removing locally relevant model components based on the ecological and socioeconomic context of interest.

Additionally, I am working to apply biophysical models in tandem with maps of cultural ecosystem services generated using the Social Values for Ecosystem Services (SolVES) tool (Sherrouse et al. 2011), and in understanding the linkages between the ecosystem services provided by migratory species and their habitat dependence as part of efforts to build markets for migratory species conservation (Semmens et al. 2011).





Bagstad, K.J., et al. 2013. Spatial dynamics of ecosystem service flows: A comprehensive approach to quantifying actual services. Ecosystem Services 4: 117-125.


Engel, S., et al.  2008.  Designing payments for environmental services in theory and practice: An overview of the issues.  Ecological Economics 65: 663-674.

Ligmann-Zielinska, A., et al.  2008.  Spatial optimization as a generative technique for sustainable multi-objective land-use allocation.  International Journal of Geographical Information Science 22 (6): 601-622.

Polasky, S., et al.  2008.  Where to put things? Spatial land management to sustain biodiversity and economic returns.  Biological Conservation 141:1505-1524.

Semmens, D.J., et al. 2011. Accounting for the ecosystem services of migratory species: quantifying migration support and spatial subsidies. Ecological Economics 70: 2236-2242.

Sherrouse, B.C., et al. 2011. A GIS application for assessing, mapping, and quantifying the social values of ecosystem services. Applied Geography 31, 748-760.

Tallis, H.T., et al.  2008.  An ecosystem services framework to support both practical conservation and economic development.  Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences 105 (28): 9457-9464.

Villa, F., et al.  ARIES (Artificial Intelligence for Ecosystem Services): A new tool for ecosystem services assessment, planning, and valuation.  Proceedings of the 11th Annual BIOECON Conference on Economic Instruments to Enhance the Conservation and Sustainable Use of Biodiversity, Venice, Italy, September 2009.

Contact Information

Kenneth Bagstad
West 6th Ave. & Kipling St., DFC Bldg. 25
Lakewood, CO 80225-0046
303-236-5349 - Fax
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