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United States Department of Agriculture

Agricultural Research Service

Research Project: MANAGEMENT TECHNOLOGIES FOR ARID RANGELANDS Title: A site-based approach to delivering rangeland ecosystem services

Authors
item Brown, Joel -
item Macleod, Neil -

Submitted to: The Rangeland Journal
Publication Type: Peer Reviewed Journal
Publication Acceptance Date: June 1, 2011
Publication Date: June 15, 2011
Repository URL: http://handle.nal.usda.gov/10113/58002
Citation: Brown, J.R., Macleod, N. 2011. A site-based approach to delivering rangeland ecosystem services. The Rangeland Journal. 33:99-108.

Interpretive Summary: Rangeland ecosystems provide a wide array of goods and services for society. Some of these goods, such as meat and fiber reach consumers through well established market systems. Other services, such as climate mitigation, water quality, wildlife habitat do not leave the land. Determining their quantity, quality and value presents a challenge that must be met if there is to be a credible, accessible ecosystem services market for rangelands. In this paper, we describe some of the rangeland ecosystem services and propose a basis for measurement, both quality and quantity. We suggest the use of a soil/vegetation based system in which similar climate, geomorphology and edaphic properties are grouped into ecological sites based on their response to disturbance. Within each ecological site, a unique state and transition model describes the dynamics of vegetation and soil surface properties, provides state indicators (vegetation structure, soil properties), predicts ecosystem services that may be derived at multiple scales, and organizes information related to management to achieve ecosystem service objectives, including sustainability.

Technical Abstract: Rangeland ecosystems are capable of providing an array of ecosystem services important to the wellbeing of society. Some of these services (e.g. meat, fibre) are transported to markets and their quantity, quality and value are established via a set of widely accepted standards. Other services (e.g. climate mitigation, water quality, wildlife habitat) do not leave the land, but are, in fact, most valuable when they remain in situ. Determining their quantity, quality and value presents a challenge that must be met if there is to be a credible, accessible ecosystem services market for rangelands. In this paper we describe some of the ecosystem services that may be extracted from rangelands, discuss their unique ecological nature and relate those unique ecological properties to soil and vegetation attributes that can serve as a basis for measurement, both quality and quantity. We suggest the use of a soil/vegetation-based system in which similar climate, geomorphology and edaphic properties are grouped into ecological sites based on their response to disturbance. Within each ecological site, a unique state and transition model describes the dynamics of vegetation and soil surface properties, provides state indicators (vegetation structure, soil properties), predicts ecosystem services that may be derived at multiple scales, and organizes information related to management to achieve ecosystem service objectives, including sustainability.

Last Modified: 12/20/2014
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