|WATERHOUSE, HANNAH - University Of California Berkeley
|ABURTO, FELIPE - Texas A&M University
|REES, GORDON - California Polytechnic State University
|GRIFFIN-LAHUE, DEIRDRE - Washington State University
|SALLS, WILSON - Us Environmental Protection Agency (EPA)
|SCOW, KATE - University Of California, Davis
|O'GEEN, ANTHONY - University Of California, Davis
Submitted to: Land Degradation and Development
Publication Type: Peer Reviewed Journal
Publication Acceptance Date: 10/14/2023
Publication Date: 11/16/2023
Citation: Waterhouse, H., Aburto, F., Rees, G., Griffin-Lahue, D., Salls, W., Rippner, D.A., Scow, K., O'Geen, A. 2023. Diversified ecotypes on rangelands promote soil multifunctionality. Land Degradation and Development. 1-18. https://doi.org/10.1002/ldr.4967.
Interpretive Summary: Rangelands occupy significant land area in the United States and have the potential to provide a variety of environmental benefits. In this study, a host of soil health indicators were assessed in range land composed of various ecotypes including coastal live oak woodlands, coastal shrublands, exotic open annual grassland, and restored native perennial grassland. Results showed that coastal shrublands had unique properties compared to the other ecotypes. Therefore, managing rangeland to allow for multiple ecotypes can improve environmental benefits associated with cattle operations.
Technical Abstract: Due to their vast extent and landscape heterogeneity, rangelands have the potential to be provisioners of ecosystem services including carbon storage and greenhouse gas regulation, water and nutrient cycling, wildlife habitat and biodiversity. Soils are the foundation of rangeland health and the ecosystem services they provide. While many studies have examined the effect of grazing intensity on rangeland ecosystem services, few studies have looked at the broader rangeland landscape and how managing ecological states can influence soil-based ecosystem services. In this study, a suite of soil health physical, chemical, and biological indicators were measured in various ecotypes found within a working cattle ranch, including coastal live oak woodlands, coastal shrublands, exotic open annual grassland, and restored native perennial grassland. Based on soil health indicators, results from this study show the shrubland significantly diverges from other ecological states on a ranch site, having higher water infiltration and plant available water, carbon stocks, and a more diverse microbial community based on lipid profiles that drives apparently more dynamic cycling of carbon and nitrogen. While these results are limited to the conditions of the study site and cannot be directly translated to rangeland systems with different land uses, disturbance regime history, soils, or climatic conditions, they highlight the relevance of evaluating varying ecological states within rangeland operations to holistically assess soil functionality and ecosystem health.