In lieu of an abstract, here is a brief excerpt of the content:

  • Using Online Surveys and Landscape Preferences to Enhance Nearshore Restoration
  • David J. Trimbach (bio)

Ecological restoration necessitates the integration of the social sciences (Bennett et al. 2017, Robinson et al. 2019, Niemiec et al. 2021). The social sciences include both classic (e.g., human geography, anthropology, and psychology) and applied (e.g., communication, education, and law) fields that can describe, predict, theorize, and understand a diverse array of social phenomena (e.g., governance), social processes (e.g., decision making), and individual attributes (e.g., preferences) (Bennett et al. 2017). The social sciences can help integrate and understand pertinent human dimensions of a particular restoration project, challenge, or context (Bennett et al. 2017, Biedenweg et al. 2021). For example, the social sciences can help prioritize restoration actions, gauge community preferences, ensure more equitable restoration outcomes, and enhance management practices, among other potential benefits (Bennett et al. 2017, Robinson et al. 2019). One mechanism to better integrate the social sciences is through the application of social science methods or tools to enhance restoration (Bennett et al. 2017, Niemiec et al. 2021, Wardropper et al. 2021).

This paper demonstrates the effective application of a social science research tool, an online social science survey (Wardropper et al. 2021), to benefit nearshore restoration in the Puget Sound region of Washington State (U.S.). The survey was created via Qualtrics (Qualtrics LLC., Provo, UT), a private research software company focused on online data collection, including by partnering with web-based research panels to offer quality, diverse, and often "hard-to-reach" populations, who are incentivized to complete surveys (Boas et al. 2018, Ibarra et al. 2018). Qualtrics has many benefits associated with online surveys (Ibarra et al. 2018), that include: offering an efficient tool for collecting data remotely; increasing accessibility for some groups; allowing for quick data collection if using incentivized research panels; reducing data entry steps and errors; and providing convenient, streamlined, and interactive question types or formats (Ibarra et al. 2018, Wardropper et al. 2021). These benefits demonstrate the improvements such tools have undergone since their initial use (Wardropper et al. 2021). Additionally, compared to other online social science survey tools, Qualtrics tends to have the most demographically representative and highest quality samples (Boas et al. 2018; Ibarra et al. 2018).

Online survey tools, with or without respondent panels, are widely used within the social sciences, including within social work (Davys et al. 2017) and community health (Ibarra et al. 2018, Crandall et al. 2020). Online surveys are also increasingly contributing to restoration research (Altrichter et al. 2017, Lieberman et al. 2018, Seeteram et al. 2018; Trimbach et al. 2021). For example, Altrichter et al. (2017) used an online survey to assess stakeholders' perceptions of native plants and local ecotypes to inform restoration. Seeteram et al. (2018) integrated an online survey to help evaluate peoples' preferences of Everglades restoration and willingness-to-pay. Trimbach et al. (2021) used another online survey tool and research panel to gauge Washington and British Columbia residents' geographic literacy to inform Salish Sea restoration communications, education, and engagement.

This study's survey was intentionally created to gauge residents' sense of place of the region's nearshore areas (Trimbach 2021, Trimbach and Biedenweg 2021) and residents' nearshore landscape preferences. This paper focuses on the latter goal and demonstrates the potential use of online social science surveys and landscape preferences. By gauging landscape preferences, research can contribute to how landscapes are managed, notably by providing opportunities for greater public rather than expert input (Liu et al. 2021). Such studies help examine human-landscape relationships and interactions, given that landscapes comprise spatial, ecological, and social dimensions (Häfner et al. 2018, Liu et al. 2021) that are culturally-specific (Saldias et al. 2021). Such studies have partly been founded on the understanding that landscape perceptions and preferences are based on a range of visual [End Page 91]

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Figure 1.

Shoreline landscape preference photograph scale (A–F).

aesthetic attributes, values, or indicators that can be used to gauge a landscape's character and even residents' behaviors (Häfner et al. 2018). A similar coastal landscape study was conducted in Estonia, where respondents were found to have...