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importance of grassland ecosystem

2017; see also Parr et al. Summers are usually hot, and temperatures can go up to 90 degrees Fahrenheit. 2012, Bommarco et al. However, Lyons et al. 2008), the efficiency of these systems in grasslands has been questioned (Parr et al. Abiotic components of grassland ecosystem are light, temperature, wind, humidity, atmospheric pressure and some chemicals. The functional aspects of the Grassland can be studied by two means: 1. Fire ecology is a scientific discipline concerned with natural processes involving fire in an ecosystem and the ecological effects, the interactions between fire and the abiotic and biotic components of an ecosystem, and the role as an ecosystem process. Grassland ecosystems are present in every single continent on this planet with the sole exception of Antarctica, which is too cold to sustain a grassland ecosystem. Importance of grassland ecosystem These grassland ecosystems cover about 20% of the entire earth. Grassland ecosystems are very important for a wide variety of different reasons. Despite an increasing demand for animal products due to a growing human population and increased per capita consumption of these products, the requirement for greater meat and dairy production is not leading to an increase in grassland areas used for grazing but is being met rather by the production of fodder on cropland and improved grasslands (Naylor et al. However, such products are not considered important in Europe (Bullock et al. In NE, much of the semi‐natural grassland is protected (Bullock et al. Extensively managed grasslands are recognized globally for their high biodiversity and their social and cultural values. Use the link below to share a full-text version of this article with your friends and colleagues. Three major types of grasslands can be distinguished within agricultural production systems: natural, semi‐natural, and improved grasslands (Bullock et al. 2017). Based on the literature, we find surprisingly little evidence that the high small‐scale biodiversity found in natural and semi‐natural grasslands is strongly related to the supply of ES (Appendix S2: Table S1). Plant Functional Diversity, Climate and Grazer Type Regulate Soil Activity in Natural Grasslands. 2001, Bullock et al. Nkambule et al. However, most studies of ES do not distinguish between supply and demand (Burkhard et al. Mathematical Methods in the Applied Sciences. Hence, grasslands presently contribute to water supply and flood regulation in SA and can also affect these ES in NE (see also below). 2010, Bellarby et al. 2009). 1). 2010, Bullock et al. One bundle was dominated by water ES and also included the key grassland ES fodder production. We provide an overview of the demand in society for multiple ES that can be supplied by grasslands in the two regions, and how grasslands contribute to their supply at local and regional scales. 2016 for Patagonia). Materials such as thatch grass for houses are locally utilized in SA (Van Oudtshoorn 2012). By integrating grasslands into agricultural production systems and land‐use decisions locally and regionally, their potential to contribute to functional landscapes and to food security and sustainable livelihoods can be greatly enhanced. Similarly, there are surprisingly few studies explicitly relating grasslands to ES contributing to agricultural yield, that is, biological control or pollination, despite the large number of studies on how these ES are enhanced by semi‐natural habitats in agricultural landscapes in Europe. The bundle including the regulating services pollination and biological control also included biodiversity. While National Grasslands are valued for these basic goods, they also deliver other important services that are often perceived to be free and limitless. All rights reserved. Grasses are often taken for granted but actually are the most important plant group. This is a critical knowledge gap because the global human population increasingly relies on grasslands to supply meat and dairy products. We assessed trade‐offs and synergies among services in relation to management practices and found that although some trade‐offs are inevitable, appropriate management may create synergies and avoid trade‐offs among many services. 2003, Loreau et al. Disentangling the effects of host resources, local, and landscape variables on the occurrence pattern of the dusky large blue butterfly (Phengaris nausithous) in upland grasslands. Each part of the ecosystem is important because ecosystems are interdependent. Cluster and factor analyses were carried out on data based on the literature reviewed (Appendix S3) to explore whether our assessment of ES could identify such bundles. In the U.S. Midwest, for example, Native Americans set fires to … Please check your email for instructions on resetting your password. In our analysis, the categorization of ES was modified from the Millennium Ecosystem Assessment (MA; 2005), TEEB (2010), and the UK NEA (2011; see Table 1). However, sedge and rush can also be found along with variable proportions of legumes, like clover, and other herbs. If you do not receive an email within 10 minutes, your email address may not be registered, Grasslands have been playing a prominent role in biodiversity–ecosystem functioning research. 2014). Ruminant grazers are efficient converters of non‐edible plant biomass such as grass into human‐edible energy and nutrients (e.g., O'Mara 2012) and can do so without competing with humans for use of crops for foodstuffs. ", author = "Edwards, {Erika J.} 2010), although forested land has even lower erosion (Cerdan et al. A statistical comparison of spatio‐temporal surface moisture patterns beneath a semi‐natural grassland and permanent pasture: From drought to saturation. The potential for grasslands to deliver these ES is likely to be substantial, and it is unlikely that conversion of grassland to forest will supply many of these services at comparable rates (Burrascano et al. 2011), keep GHG emissions low (Soussana et al. Springer series on environmental management, The good shepherd: remedying the fencing syndrome, Sustainable food consumption and production in a resource‐constrained world. Not only do grasslands have a local importance for the maintenance of biodiversity and food production, but they also affect ecological processes at landscape (e.g., pollination), regional (e.g., water regulation, recreation), and global scales (e.g., climate regulation). 2010, Dlamini et al. These issues have received far less attention than carbon sequestration (exceptions are, e.g., Smith et al. 2017 for further discussion on this assumption). Learn about our remote access options, Department of Ecology, Swedish University of Agricultural Sciences (SLU), Box 7044, SE‐75007, Uppsala, Sweden, Stellenbosch Institute for Advanced Study (STIAS), Wallenberg research centre at Stellenbosch University, Marais Street, Stellenbosch 7600, South Africa, NERC Centre for Ecology & Hydrology, Benson Lane, Wallingford, Oxfordshire OX10 8BB, UK, Department of Earth System Science, University of California Irvine, Irvine, California, 92697 USA, Natural Resources and the Environment, CSIR, P.O. Working off-campus? Drought Impacts, Coping Responses and Adaptation in the UK Outdoor Livestock Sector: Insights to Increase Drought Resilience. 2008) in both NE and SA. 2007). (2013) argued that beef and dairy production on natural grasslands and rough grazing land, as opposed to intensive grain‐fed production from croplands, may reduce GHG emissions. (2013) found evidence for this among alpine grassland plants. 2011, SCAR 2011, Bommarco et al. Some grasslands are protected as nature reserves or national parks and are often advertised as hotspots for local and national tourism (Everson and Morris 2006, Fischer et al. Having a wealth of grasslands provides our ecosystem with sufficient clean water, helps prevent floods, and promotes the natural production of food crops and meats. live together in grasslands making it a rich ecosystem in terms of the food chain. Grasslands are also essential to carbon sequestration, which is crucial to soil health. A Meta‐analysis of the Willingness to Pay for Cultural Services from Grasslands in Europe. The generalized quaternion matrix equation AXB+CX⋆D=E. These natural grasslands form an effective system for water capture, high infiltration, and reduced erosion, thereby regulating stream flow in the rainy season and maintaining flows during the dry seasons (Cadman et al. With Power Comes Responsibility – A Rangelands Perspective on Forest Landscape Restoration. The aim of this paper is to highlight these impacts and their consequences for SOM dynamics and element cycling. 2010) and are related either because they are based on the same ecosystem processes or are influenced by similar management or environmental drivers, are termed bundles (Bennett et al. Delayed and immediate effects of habitat loss on the genetic diversity of the grassland plant Trifolium montanum. This biome experiences long, hot summers depending on the latitude of the temperate grassland. It almost goes without saying that grassland ecosystems are composed largely of wide swathes of grass rather than trees or shrubs – or, on the other hand, rather than bare desert soil. The similarities among the bundles in SA and NE suggest that there are generalities in ES relations among natural and semi‐natural grassland areas. But they are all places where there is too little rain for trees to grow in great numbers. Increasing demand for multiple services like water and meat production, and an overall increased awareness of the ES supply potential of grasslands, could help to re‐invigorate the cultural role of grasslands and strengthen the synergy between the multiple ES they supply (Stenseke 2009). Habitat. For example, the supply of water for irrigation can change irrespective of the demand from different stakeholders (farmers, conservation managers). Habitat. The delicate balance of plants and animals in grassland ecosystems maintains a high … Bison, deer, and cattle compact the soil with their hooves and open new areas for seeds and the generation of plants to take root. The supply can come from different ecosystems (e.g., grassland ecosystems supply water for forage production while forest ecosystems supply drinking water; Yahdjian et al. 2012, Yahdjian et al. Hence, grasslands and their management play a role as potential sinks in the global carbon cycle (Lal 2004), both in NE and in SA. 2011). (2018) for arable fields. They are usually artificially fertilized and maintained by intensive management (Suttie et al. 2013), and together with other rangelands, they often contribute to agricultural production through livestock grazing on forage that cannot be used directly by humans (Erb et al. 2010). Our exploratory analysis identified three bundles of ES that were similar in the two areas (Fig. 2010 for a balanced discussion). Many outdoor recreation activities such as bird watching, hiking, or hunting are linked to open landscapes (Hönigová et al. Grassland ecosystem is an open area covered by grasses all over that provide habitat to various plant and animal species. The new habitat for these animals can render large areas of forage lands sterile. Natural (SA) and semi‐natural (NE) grasslands showed both similarities and dissimilarities in terms of ES supply and demand (Table 1). More than half of the most traded species originate from grassland. The traditional herding system for cattle keeping is an integral part of social cohesion in rural landscapes (Salomon et al. Discover the Importance of India. (2014) showed increasing potential for biological control with the proportion of grassland in the landscape. Not only grasses, but … Farmland abandonment: Threat or opportunity for biodiversity conservation? For example, well‐managed grazing by livestock on natural or semi‐natural grassland can keep GHG emissions to a minimum as opposed to intensive grain‐fed animal production with higher emissions level (Peyraud 2011, Bellarby et al. When data were available and it was relevant, we also compared ES supply from grasslands with that from other ecosystems, including forest and cropland. 2010). Biodiversity and ES thus provide major arguments for maintaining grazed grasslands despite the large climate effects of methane‐emitting livestock. … Whether the assessed distribution across the three categories differed between the two cases was tested by a G‐test with William's correction for small sample sizes. 2012). In addition, nutrient application to grasslands to increase livestock production results in N2O emissions (Soussana et al. 2011, SCAR 2011, Poppy et al. Land use and climate impacts of food in 2050 under different livestock futures, South African National Spatial Biodiversity Assessment 2004: technical Report. The water table in grasslands also affects GHG fluxes; wetter grasslands often produce methane, while drier grasslands do not (Acreman et al. In NE, the supply is largely dependent on small‐scale heterogeneity in soil texture and hillslope gradients which affect flooding and erosion (Souchere et al. 2014), often invoking the concept of sustainable intensification, in terms of the increase of food production on existing cropland (e.g., Godfray et al. Permanent grasslands store large amounts of carbon in the soil (Lal 2004, Soussana et al. 2010, Hou et al. The grassland ecosystem soil is very fertile which is suitable for croplands or pastures. 2011). The vast areas of SA grasslands are also important for biodiversity. Enter your email address below and we will send you your username, If the address matches an existing account you will receive an email with instructions to retrieve your username. Our research on multiple ecosystem services, grasslands, and agricultural landscapes has been funded by, among others, HagmarksMistra, The Swedish Research Council FORMAS, the Research program SAPES to HGS, JB, and RL, and the UK Biodiversity and Ecosystem Services Sustainability program. Semi‐natural grasslands are the product of human management, require livestock grazing or hay‐cutting for their maintenance, and will generally be encroached by shrubs and trees if taken out of production (Queiroz et al. Grassland restorations are crucial for recovering this important but highly degraded ecosystem. 2013). This feeding behavior keeps the savanna a grassland and not a forest or woodland. Supply/demand as assessed by the experts on the workshop: L=low, M=medium, H=high. However, we emphasize that empirical data on ecosystem service relationships in grasslands are needed to confirm these findings, as done by Birkhofer et al. 2014; Table 1). Temperatures vary with seasons with tornadoes, blizzards, and fires occurring in many temperate grassland regions. Changes in the food supply capacity of alpine grassland ecosystem: A dialectic synthesis of natural and anthropogenic drivers. Medicinal plants are regularly used by more than half the South African population, with an annual trade in a single province, KwaZulu‐Natal, of over 4000 tonnes of plant material comprising more than 700 species and worth US$13 million (Mander 1998). Grassland biomes are normally situated between a forest and a desert. Grasslands can exist in a variety of climates, but they share several important characteristics: dry seasons or dry spells, and rolling terrain with prevailing winds. Two reviewers gave valuable comments on an earlier version. In the temperate zones of the earth, between the equator and the polar regions. Grassland ecosystems are extremely bio-diverse and are home to thriving communities of plants, animals, insects and mammals. Noun. However, the climate mitigation effect of intensified management may be offset by increased emissions of greenhouse gases other than CO2 (see below). Natural and semi‐natural grasslands, hereafter collectively called grasslands, have played an important role in people's livelihoods for millennia as areas producing fodder for animals (Emanuelsson 2009). Erosion prevention by grassland vegetation is strongly coupled to other services relating to water supply and regulation, carbon sequestration, and soil fertility (e.g., Pilgrim et al. 2010, Werling et al. This ecosystem plays an important role in agriculture. Livestock production styles and managing grassland ecosystems, Grassland productivity and ecosystem services, A global quantitative synthesis of local and landscape effects on wild bee pollinators in agroecosystems, Biodiversity and the EU budget: making the case for conserving biodiversity in the context of the EU budget review, Importance of pollinators in changing landscapes for world crops, Carbon sink activity of managed grasslands, Soil carbon sequestration impacts on global climate change and food security, Cascading effects of long‐term land‐use changes on plant traits and ecosystem functioning, Stakeholder perceptions of grassland ecosystem services in relation to knowledge on soil fertility and biodiversity, A novel framework for linking functional diversity of plants with other trophic levels for the quantification of ecosystem services, A landscape perspective on conservation of semi‐natural grasslands, How spatial scale shapes the generation and management of multiple ecosystem services, Biodiversity as spatial insurance in heterogeneous landscapes, Biodiversity and ecosystem services: a multilayered relationship, Temperate grasslands in catchment systems: the role of scale, connectivity and thresholds in the provision and regulation of water quality and quantity, Marketing of indigenous medicinal plants in South Africa. Ecosystem service bundles for analyzing tradeoffs in diverse landscapes, National Grasslands Biodiversity Program: grassland Biodiversity Profile and Spatial Biodiversity Priority Assessment, Farming for ecosystem services: an ecological approach to production agriculture, Greedy or needy? ESA Headquarters1990 M Street, NWSuite 700 Grasslands of the Great Plains once acted as a virtually impenetrable barrier between wildlife and plants of eastern and western forests. 2017, Röös et al. Therefore, M and L demand, respectively, because there is still little real political commitment to climate change mitigation that would indicate high demand from society. Ubiquity. While demand for ecosystems services seems to balance supply in natural grasslands of SA, the smaller areas of semi‐natural grasslands in Europe appear to not meet the demand for many services. 2010, Bullock et al. We argue that ecosystem service and food security research and policy should give higher priority to how grasslands can be managed for fodder and meat production alongside other ES. 2014). 2013, Schulp et al. Grasslands (also called Greenswards) are areas where the vegetation is dominated by grasses and other herbaceous (non-woody) plants. 2008). 2005, Suttie et al. Protecting our prairies: Research and policy actions for conserving America’s grasslands. (a) The global distribution of grasslands and rangelands (map modified from Wikipedia, The number of ecosystem services (ES) where demand (D) was assessed to be higher, similar or lower than supply (S) in northern Europe (NE; yellow) vs. southern Africa (SA; green). Unfortunately, good science on grasslands is missing. Soil quality. 2014), but are also used by livestock. Native seed addition as an effective tool for post-invasion restoration. 2008). By combining expert knowledge from the workshop and the literature, we identified potential pairwise relationships between grassland ES, and subsequently, we identified such bundles as well as possible synergies and trade‐offs between ES from grasslands (Appendix S3). 2013). 2003) or to ecosystem multifunctionality (Soliveres et al. To be honest, the present grassland ecosystem as such has developed in the Baltic Region and most parts of Europe as a symbiosis between nature and man – disturbances provided by haymaking or grazing prevented grasslands from being overgrown by trees and bushes, and from reaching their final transformation back into forests. 2011, Lemaire et al. So a grassland ecosystems such as the Everglades, or the African savannah. 2011). Our analysis suggests that in NE, the estimated demand for ES that can be obtained from grasslands was often higher than the estimated supply from grasslands, while in SA, demand was usually similar to supply, with no trend toward higher or lower demand vs. supply (Fig. Furthermore, grasslands are one of the largest biomes on earth and dominate the landscape worldwide. In this area tall grasses rise to a height of about 1.5 to 3.5 metres. Plant species composition also influences carbon and nitrogen storage and dynamics in grasslands (e.g., Lemaire et al. Noun. There are many ecosystems where grasses are not present or if present only in limited quantities, for example, deserts and rain forests. The climate regulation services were combined because they are difficult to examine separately. Ecosystems: Definition, Scope and Importance! 2. Prediction of future grassland vegetation cover fluctuation under climate change scenarios. They occur in regions too dry for forests and too moist for deserts. 2011, Lavorel et al. 2012). Category: Environment, Essays and Paragraphs On June 28, 2017 By LightHouse. In NE, it included mitigation of GHG emissions, wild foods and materials, medicinal plants, and hunting. In fact, grasslands surround every desert in Asia. 2010) and in SA, where high energy rainfall and steep gradients result in high erosion potential (Blignaut et al. 2014). Pollination of insect‐pollinated crops may be higher close to adjacent grasslands (Taki et al. ADVERTISEMENTS: The annual rainfall ranges between 25- 75 cm, usually seasonal. 2016), mainly due to conversion to arable land for production of animal feed crops and, conversely, lack of management and abandonment (Queiroz et al. Climate change affects humans globally. Greenhouse gas emission mitigation seemed unrelated to the three bundles. Spatial Heterogeneity of Vegetation Structure, Plant N Pools and Soil N Content in Relation to Grassland Management. 2017). DNA barcode trnH-psbA is a promising candidate for efficient identification of forage legumes and grasses.

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