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ARS Home » Plains Area » Fort Collins, Colorado » Center for Agricultural Resources Research » Rangeland Resources & Systems Research » Research » Publications at this Location » Publication #399137

Research Project: Adaptive Grazing Management and Decision Support to Enhance Ecosystem Services in the Western Great Plains

Location: Rangeland Resources & Systems Research

Title: Supplying ecosystem services on US rangelands

item BRISKE, DAVID - Texas A&M University
item ARCHER, STEVE - University Of Arizona
item BURCHFIELD, EMILY - Emory University
item BURNIDGE, WILLIAM - The Nature Conservancy
item Derner, Justin
item GOSNELL, HANNAH - Oregon State University
item HATFIELD, JERRY - Retired ARS Employee
item KAZANSKI, CLARE - The Nature Conservancy
item KHALIL, MONA - Us Geological Survey
item LARK, TYLER - University Of Wisconsin

Submitted to: Nature Sustainability
Publication Type: Peer Reviewed Journal
Publication Acceptance Date: 5/18/2023
Publication Date: 9/4/2023
Citation: Briske, D.D., Archer, S., Burchfield, E., Burnidge, W., Derner, J.D., Gosnell, H., Hatfield, J., Kazanski, C., Khalil, M., Lark, T.J. 2023. Supplying ecosystem services on US rangelands. Nature Sustainability. 6:1524-1532.

Interpretive Summary: Rangelands in the US provide many ecosystem services such as livestock production and wildlife habitat for the public. Provision of these services, however, are likely to be altered by changes due to consumers and society, as well as biophysical drivers being influence by directional climate changes and climatic variability. This team of authors developed four scenarios that are likely to be outcomes for rangelands as the 21st century progresses. Two scenarios, grass-finished beef and modern pastoralism, continue to emphasize livestock production, but operation strategies are modified to accommodate changes associated with warming and more adverse and extreme weather events. The third scenario expands provision of ecosystem services to include opportunities associated with renewable energy and carbon sequestration. A fourth scenario has a marked change in operations with moving from production services to cultural services (recreation, ecotourism, and hobby ranching) as society and wealthy, new landowners seek to reconnect to the land. We expect that these four scenarios will be implemented differently across the diverse rangelands in the US.

Technical Abstract: The diverse ecosystem services supplied by U.S. rangelands are being threatened by biophysical and societal drivers. A scenario assessment was conducted to address the focal question “how will biophysical and societal changes modify the supply of key ecosystem services from U.S. rangelands throughout the 21st century”? Four plausible future scenarios emerged, each with unique implications for ecosystem services: 1) Grass-finished Beef, 2) Modern Pastoralism, 3) Diversified Ecosystem Services, and 4) Amenity Ranching. The Grass-finished Beef and Modern Pastoralism scenarios emphasize the traditional provisioning services of forage and beef cattle production, but with highly modified production strategies and costs necessitated by climate change and variability. The Diversified Ecosystem Services scenario expands the portfolio of ecosystem services supplied, with emphasis on renewable energy generation and carbon sequestration. The Amenity Ranching scenario represents a transition from provisioning to cultural services in response to a growing rent gap between agricultural incomes and amenity land values. The spatial and temporal expression of these scenarios will vary among rangeland ecoregions in response to heterogeneity of both biophysical and societal drivers. Large variation in the supply of rangeland ecosystem services will require that social organizations develop sufficient capacity and flexibility to effectively navigate tradeoffs between supply and demand among diverse stakeholder groups.