Ecosystem services to and from North American arid grasslands

TitleEcosystem services to and from North American arid grasslands
Publication TypeConference Paper
Year of Publication2007
AuthorsHavstad K
Conference NameIV Simposium Internacional de Pastezales
Date PublishedAugust 22-24, 20
Conference LocationSan Luis Potosi, Mexico
ARIS Log Number215810
Keywordsgrasslands, North America
AbstractArid grasslands throughout North America are characterized by low and variable precipitation, nutrient-poor soils, and high spatial and temporal variability in plant production. These grasslands have provided a variety of goods and services, with the provisioning of food and fiber dominating through much of the 20th century. More recently, poor economic returns, increased regulations, an aging rural population, expanding urbanization, and/or increasingly diverse interests of land owners have pressured the traditional services originating from the rangeland livestock industry. A shift to other provisioning, regulating, cultural, and supporting services has occurred or is occurring in many regions. This shift has important implications for other services of increasing interest, such as biodiversity and carbon sequestration. We have always recognized that these lands can supply societal demands such as clean water and a safe food supply. Irrespective of the services and goods supplied, the use of ecologically-based principles remains at the core of land management. However, expectations need to be based on a thorough understanding of the inherent limits of these lands. One service to these lands that needs to be provided by managers is the use of practices that either maintains ecological functions or that restores functions to systems that have been substantially degraded over past decades. With proper policies, supporting science, and ecologically based management techniques, these grasslands may provide these historical and more unique goods and services in a sustainable fashion, though in different proportions than in the past.