Skip to main content
ARS Home » Southeast Area » Raleigh, North Carolina » Plant Science Research » Research » Publications at this Location » Publication #313005

Research Project: Strategies to Predict and Manipulate Responses of Crops and Crop Disease to Anticipated Changes of Carbon Dioxide, Ozone and Temperature

Location: Plant Science Research

Title: Ecosystem services and grasslands in America

Author
item Franzluebbers, Alan
item Steiner, Jean

Submitted to: Book Chapter
Publication Type: Book / Chapter
Publication Acceptance Date: 1/6/2015
Publication Date: 1/28/2016
Citation: Franzluebbers, A.J., Steiner, J.L. Ecosystem services and grasslands in America. In: Potschin, M., Haines-Young, R., Fish, R., and Turner, R.K. (editors), Handbook of Ecosystem Services, Routledge. p. 421-424. Book Chapter 2016.

Interpretive Summary: Grasslands in North America have historically occupied the Great Plains region east of the Rocky Mountains. This brief summary of grasslands in America was assembled by a team of USDA-ARS scientists in Raleigh, North Carolina and El Reno, Oklahoma. Grasslands in the USA are valued for a wide range of ecosystem services, and provide a primary source of forage for grazing livestock. Unfortunately, grasslands are also being exploited through (i) excessive cultivation of the deep, rich soils that developed over the millennia in the Great Plains, resulting in enormous loss of soil organic matter, native fertility, and soil sediment or (ii) excessive stocking on semi-arid and arid rangelands located in brittle environments of the southwestern USA, resulting in loss of vegetative cover, low resilience, excessive soil erosion, and poor rural livelihoods. On-going efforts by private and government organizations are helping to preserve the intrinsic qualities of grasslands.

Technical Abstract: Historically, grasslands occupied a large portion of Canada and the USA throughout the Great Plains region east of the Rocky Mountains. Grasslands in the USA are valued for a wide range of ecosystem services, and provide a primary source of forage for grazing livestock. Unfortunately, grasslands are also being exploited through (i) excessive cultivation of the deep, rich soils that developed over the millennia in the Great Plains, resulting in enormous loss of soil organic matter, native fertility, and soil sediment or (ii) excessive stocking on semi-arid and arid rangelands located in brittle environments of the southwestern USA, resulting in loss of vegetative cover, low resilience, excessive soil erosion, and poor rural livelihoods. Preservation of grasslands in America has been an on-going effort of private and government organizations to be able to understand their intrinsic qualities.