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NCER Grantee Research Project Results

Quantifying a Fundamental Gap in Ecosystem Service Tradeoffs: Differences Among Native- and Exotic-Dominated Landscapes

EPA Grant Number: FP917227
Title: Quantifying a Fundamental Gap in Ecosystem Service Tradeoffs: Differences Among Native- and Exotic-Dominated Landscapes
Investigators: Martin, Leanne M
Institution: Iowa State University
EPA Project Officer: Jones, Brandon
Project Period: August 1, 2010 through July 31, 2013
Project Amount: $111,000
RFA: STAR Graduate Fellowships (2010)
Research Category: Academic Fellowships , Fellowship - Ecosystem Services: Terrestrial Systems Soil and Plant Ecology

Description:

Objective:

Landscapes exhibit tradeoffs in the amount and extent of ecosystem services provided, and this may be particularly true in grasslands, which are represented by a variety of native- and exotic-dominated species compositions. However, exotic species impacts are typically quantified by looking at only one or a few exotic species invasions into native environments, and ecosystem services of persistent exotic communities, which occur commonly, have not been compared to native communities in working landscapes. This research aims to understand how relative abundances of exotic and native species in grasslands influence multiple ecosystem service tradeoffs between plant species and/or functional group diversity, carbon storage, productivity, and bee pollinator abundances at a landscape scale.

Synopsis:

Grasslands provide multiple ecosystem services essential for human health. However, they are represented by a variety of plant species compositions, and it is not well known how ecosystem services may vary among them. This research aims to understand how relative abundances of exotic and native species in grasslands affect multiple ecosystem service tradeoffs between plant species diversity, carbon storage, productivity, and bee pollinator abundances at a landscape scale.

Approach:

Sampling will take place over 2 years in a latitudinal gradient spanning the tallgrass prairie region of the Great Plains, which is one of the most endangered ecosystems in the world and contains both native- and exotic-dominated grasslands in urban and rural systems. A minimum of 40 grassland sites will be selected and paired according to whether they are dominated by native or exotic species. The proportion of native species, plant species diversity, bee pollinator abundances, and aboveground productivity will be measured at each site to quantify ecosystem service tradeoffs among native- and exotic-dominated grasslands. A meta-analysis will be conducted on soil carbon levels in unplowed (native) and previously plowed (exotic) grasslands to consider carbon storage in the ecosystem service tradeoff framework.

Expected Results:

Ecosystem service tradeoffs are predicted to differ between exotic- and native-dominated grasslands, and these results could impact landscape-scale management recommendations. Exotic grasslands are predicted to contain lower species and/or functional group diversity, bee pollinator abundances, and soil carbon levels, and higher productivity (ANPP) compared to native grasslands. Conversely, pollinator abundances may be higher in some exotic communities if pollinator generalists are attracted to exotics. Furthermore, exotic/native grasslands (measured as the proportion of natives) may directly affect species/functional group diversity, productivity and pollinators. Alternatively, the proportion of natives could affect productivity and pollinators via the indirect effects of species and/or functional group diversity.

Potential to Further Environmental/Human Health Protection:

Quantifying ecosystem service tradeoffs and direct and indirect effects of exotic and native grasslands on multiple ecosystem services will improve our ability to manage grasslands for these services, and ultimately human and environmental health.

Supplemental Keywords:

exotic species, novel communities, species diversity, ecosystem service, pollinators, carbon storage, productivity,

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The perspectives, information and conclusions conveyed in research project abstracts, progress reports, final reports, journal abstracts and journal publications convey the viewpoints of the principal investigator and may not represent the views and policies of ORD and EPA. Conclusions drawn by the principal investigators have not been reviewed by the Agency.

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