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ARS Home » Southeast Area » Tifton, Georgia » Southeast Watershed Research » Research » Publications at this Location » Publication #350579

Research Project: Enhancing Water Resources, Production Efficiency and Ecosystem Services in Gulf Atlantic Coastal Plain Agricultural Watersheds

Location: Southeast Watershed Research

Title: Understanding the scale and drivers of ecosystem services in working landscapes of the southeastern US

Author
item Swain, Hilary - Archbold Biological Station
item Coffin, Alisa
item Sclater, Vivienne - Archbold Biological Station
item Strickland, Timothy - Tim

Submitted to: Meeting Abstract
Publication Type: Abstract Only
Publication Acceptance Date: 1/19/2018
Publication Date: N/A
Citation: N/A

Interpretive Summary: The USDA Long Term Agroecosystem Research (LTAR) network exists to build knowledge required for “sustainable intensification of agriculture, increasing yields from the current agricultural land base while minimizing or reversing agriculture’s adverse environmental impacts.” Of the 18 current LTAR locations, two lie in the southeastern Coastal Plain, a recognized global biodiversity hotspot. Agricultural working lands in the region include croplands, pastures, and rangeland, interspersed with planted pines, natural forests, and wetlands. The provisioning and regulating ecosystem services provided by these working landscapes are bounded spatially by: abiotic drivers related to soil texture and chemistry, water availability, climatic and meteorological factors; biotic drivers related to organismal biology; land use practices including prescribed fire; economic and environmental policies; and cultural patterns. Following the money, yields and productivity are quantified at the field, farm, county and state levels. Following the flow, water is quantified in reaches, subwatersheds, watersheds and basins. Following the gas, carbon is quantified in soil cores, plant samples, flux towers, and broader marine and atmospheric sensors. And so on. Perturbations, changes, and threats that impact ecosystem services are, concomitantly, more heavily leveraged at particular scales. Research to identify shifts in agricultural practices from business-as-usual to aspirational scenarios, which most effectively accomplish LTAR goals, requires the cross-referencing of ecological systems and scales. Practices and policies may have profound effects on ecosystem services at certain scales, while having little or no effect at other scales. LTAR research planning needs to address services at various scales that may not overlap nor always match the data collection unit. We will use the southeastern US to illustrate considerations for the spatial and temporal dynamics, and confluence of ecosystem services in these agro-ecosystems. LTAR research and analyses must be appropriately scaled to the services and their bounding drivers, examining synergies and tradeoffs at multiple scales.

Technical Abstract: The USDA Long Term Agroecosystem Research (LTAR) network exists to build knowledge required for “sustainable intensification of agriculture, increasing yields from the current agricultural land base while minimizing or reversing agriculture’s adverse environmental impacts.” Of the 18 current LTAR locations, two lie in the southeastern Coastal Plain, a recognized global biodiversity hotspot. Agricultural working lands in the region include croplands, pastures, and rangeland, interspersed with planted pines, natural forests, and wetlands. The provisioning and regulating ecosystem services provided by these working landscapes are bounded spatially by: abiotic drivers related to soil texture and chemistry, water availability, climatic and meteorological factors; biotic drivers related to organismal biology; land use practices including prescribed fire; economic and environmental policies; and cultural patterns. Following the money, yields and productivity are quantified at the field, farm, county and state levels. Following the flow, water is quantified in reaches, subwatersheds, watersheds and basins. Following the gas, carbon is quantified in soil cores, plant samples, flux towers, and broader marine and atmospheric sensors. And so on. Perturbations, changes, and threats that impact ecosystem services are, concomitantly, more heavily leveraged at particular scales. Research to identify shifts in agricultural practices from business-as-usual to aspirational scenarios, which most effectively accomplish LTAR goals, requires the cross-referencing of ecological systems and scales. Practices and policies may have profound effects on ecosystem services at certain scales, while having little or no effect at other scales. LTAR research planning needs to address services at various scales that may not overlap nor always match the data collection unit. We will use the southeastern US to illustrate considerations for the spatial and temporal dynamics, and confluence of ecosystem services in these agro-ecosystems. LTAR research and analyses must be appropriately scaled to the services and their bounding drivers, examining synergies and tradeoffs at multiple scales.