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Title: Intensification differentially affects the delivery of multiple ecosystem services in subtropical and temperate grasslands

item PAUDEL, SHISHIR - Oklahoma State University
item BOUGHTON, ELIZABETH - Macarthur Agro-Ecology Research Center
item GOMEZ-CASANOVAS, NURIA - University Of Illinois
item CHAMBERLAIN, SAMUEL - University Of California
item Wagle, Pradeep
item Peterson-Munks, Brekke
item BAJGAIN, RAJEN - University Of Oklahoma
item Starks, Patrick
item BASARA, JEFFEREY - University Of Oklahoma
item Bernacchi, Carl
item DELUCIA, EVAN - University Of Illinois
item GOODMAN, LAURA - Oklahoma State University
item Gowda, Prasanna
item REUTER, RYAN - Oklahoma State University
item SPARKS, JED - Cornell University
item SWAIN, HILARY - Archbold Biological Station
item XIANGMING, XIAO - University Of Oklahoma
item STEINER, JEAN - Retired ARS Employee

Submitted to: Agriculture, Ecosystems and Environment
Publication Type: Peer Reviewed Journal
Publication Acceptance Date: 2/3/2023
Publication Date: 2/15/2023
Citation: Paudel, S., Boughton, E., Gomez-Casanovas, N., Chamberlain, S., Wagle, P., Peterson-Munks, B.L., Bajgain, R., Starks, P.J., Basara, J., Bernacchi, C.J., Delucia, E., Goodman, L., Gowda, P.H., Reuter, R., Sparks, J., Swain, H., Xiangming, X., Steiner, J. 2023. Intensification differentially affects the delivery of multiple ecosystem services in subtropical and temperate grasslands. Agriculture, Ecosystems and Environment. 348.

Interpretive Summary: Grasslands are among the most widespread ecosystems in the world, providing essential ecosystem provisioning services. As the interest in sustainable intensification of grasslands increases, there are significant concerns about the environment, biodiversity, and sustainability of agricultural production in improved pastures in contrast to diverse-native perennial pastures. This study compared provisioning (e.g., forage production), supporting (e.g., plant species richness), and regulating services (e.g., gain or release of greenhouse gases such as carbon dioxide and methane) between native and improved pastures in different climatic regions (Florida and Oklahoma) to determine how intensification of grassland management systems affected multiple ecosystem services. The study indicates that provisioning, supporting, and regulating services from managed perennial grasslands vary with intensification and climatic conditions, but managed pastures do not necessarily provide greater provisioning services compared to native pastures. Thus, intensive pasture management should be optimized for multiple ecosystem services across agricultural landscapes.

Technical Abstract: Intensively managed improved perennial pastures (commonly planted with non-native grasses and fertilized) in agricultural landscapes provide essential ecosystem services, including biomass production and greenhouse gas (GHG) mitigation. The sustainable supply of these services and environmental costs of managing improved pastures have been questioned. We synthesized data on aboveground dry biomass and nutritive value, plant species diversity, and ecosystem level carbon dioxide (CO2) and methane (CH4) fluxes from intensified improved pastures and native pastures in Florida (humid subtropical) and Oklahoma (temperate continental), USA. Contrary to expectations, intensively improved pastures did not consistently provide higher biomass production or nutritive value compared to native pastures at either location. In addition, both pasture types were net CO2 sinks, yet improved pasture in Florida consistently emitted higher CH4 than native pasture. Native pastures provided significantly higher supporting services in both locations. This first-time assessment of multiple ecosystem services in two different climatic regions show clear tradeoffs of pasture intensification. Specifically, our results suggest that the traditional intensive pasture management may result in reduced environmental services with only marginal increases in provisioning services and should be revisited through sustainable intensification to optimize multiple ecosystem services across agricultural landscapes.