2000), and most of the remainder is used as rangeland for livestock (O'Connor and Bredenkamp 1997). A Meta‐analysis of the Willingness to Pay for Cultural Services from Grasslands in Europe. 2. Ecosystem service categorization was based on the MA framework (MA. Acute colonic pseudo‐obstruction leading to perforation: a case‐control study investigating associations to tapentadol. Extensively managed grasslands are recognized globally for their high biodiversity and their social and cultural values. Grasses are food to insects, reptiles, grazing animals, birds, rodents, many other herbivores and of course to humans in the form of crops. Each part of the ecosystem is important because ecosystems are interdependent. Abiotic components of grassland ecosystem are light, temperature, wind, humidity, atmospheric pressure and some chemicals. 2013). 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. 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. Political decisions are often taken that conflict with climate regulation agreements, which still are weak and ineffective in themselves. Mathematical Methods in the Applied Sciences. These two services, as well as biodiversity, are linked to the population dynamics of the service‐providing species (often invertebrates). In the carbon cycle, earth both emits and re-captures and stores large quantities of Carbon Dioxide, also known as CO2, from the earth’s atmosphere thereby keeping the global temperature more or less in balance.” 2). . 2016 for Patagonia). Grassland studies is one of the scientific areas that have contributed most to development of general ecological knowledge and theory, being the testing ground for many ecological theories such as productivity–diversity relationships (Hector et al. Many outdoor recreation activities such as bird watching, hiking, or hunting are linked to open landscapes (Hönigová et al. Spatial Heterogeneity of Vegetation Structure, Plant N Pools and Soil N Content in Relation to Grassland Management. Below, you will find some of the main ones. Land use and climate impacts of food in 2050 under different livestock futures, South African National Spatial Biodiversity Assessment 2004: technical Report. Role of Keystone Species in an Ecosystem Role of Keystone Species in an Ecosystem A keystone species helps define an entire ecosystem. 2010). 2005). However, locally their role can be appreciated by stakeholders, both regional experts and local farmers (Lamarque et al. 2008). They occur in regions too dry for forests and too moist for deserts. For developing and optimising sustainable grassland systems, insight is needed into the mechanisms by which soil biota are influenced by management and what it means for the functioning of the soil-plant system. Grassland ecosystems are key habitats for huge numbers of different animals including zebras, bison, lions and elephants. In SA, the supply is much greater since the inland grasslands occur in the main catchment areas of the region (Cadman et al. Sustainable intensification in agriculture: premises and policies, Grazed and Confused? Report to the EEA – European Topic Centre on Biological Diversity, Relationship between paired ecosystem services in the grassland and agro‐pastoral transitional zone of China using the constraint line method, Ecological production functions for biological control services in agricultural landscapes, Strategies for carbon sequestration in agricultural soils in northern Europe. ecosystem services of grassland phytodiversity that are useful for farmers, and ways of livestock management most beneficial for diversity. 2007, Kennedy et al. Landscape Approaches to Sustainability—Aspects of Conflict, Integration, and Synergy in National Public Land-Use Interests. Plant Functional Diversity, Climate and Grazer Type Regulate Soil Activity in Natural Grasslands. Grassland ecosystems are extremely bio-diverse and are home to thriving communities of plants, animals, insects and mammals. A research agenda for the restoration of tropical and subtropical grasslands and savannas. Savanna Grassland Definition and characteristics. Frameworks on Patterns of Grasslands’ Sensitivity to Forecast Extreme Drought. 1). The extensive use and traditional management have made grasslands in NE highly appreciated for their cultural heritage (Fischer et al. 2013). However, most of this research is from synthetic grassland experiments, and apart from effects on biomass production, the importance of biodiversity, especially of high local species richness beyond 10 species, remains to be examined for most grassland ES (see Bullock et al. 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). However, although payment systems for mitigating climate change and decreasing greenhouse gases have been widely discussed, for example, REDD+ and CDM for forests (Jackson et al. 3; see Soussana et al. Grassland ecosystem A biological community that contains few trees or shrubs, is characterized by mixed herbaceous (nonwoody) vegetation cover, and is dominated by grasses or grasslike plants. 2011). Livestock keeping plays an important role in the cultural–economic history of SA (Ainslie 2013). Springer series on environmental management, The good shepherd: remedying the fencing syndrome, Sustainable food consumption and production in a resource‐constrained world. 2017). Land management and climate change determine second‐generation bioenergy potential of the US Northern Great Plains. (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. By combining the literature overview with expert opinion, we were able to crosscheck conclusions from different sources to search for general trends and regularities (termed triangulation in the social sciences, e.g., O'Donoghue and Punch 2003). Temperate grasslands can be found in various regions north and south of the equator including Argentina, Australia, and central North America. Locally rare species influence grassland ecosystem multifunctionality, Grassland and crop trends: role of the European Union Common Agricultural Policy and consequences for runoff and soil erosion, Mitigating the greenhouse gas balance of ruminant production systems through carbon sequestration in grasslands, Full accounting of the greenhouse gas (CO, Local participation in cultural landscape maintenance: lessons from Sweden, Ecological impacts of early 21st century agricultural change in Europe – A review, Effects of landscape metrics on Apis and non‐Apis pollinators and seed set in common buckwheat, The economics of ecosystems and biodiversity: ecological and economic foundations, Diversity and productivity in a long‐term grassland experiment, Conservation biological control and enemy diversity on a landscape scale, The working for water programme: evolution of payments for ecosystem services mechanism that addresses both poverty and ecosystem service delivery in South Africa, The UK National Ecosystem Assessment: synthesis of the Key Findings, Tolerable versus actual soil erosion rates in Europe, Designing resilient and sustainable grasslands for a drier future: adaptive strategies, functional traits and biotic interactions, Terrestrial ecosystem responses to species gains and losses, The relationship between land use and surface water resources in the UK, Perennial grasslands enhance biodiversity and multiple ecosystem services in bioenergy landscapes, Rangeland ecosystem services: shifting focus from supply to reconciling supply and demand. One bundle was dominated by water ES and also included the key grassland ES fodder production. We also identified knowledge gaps based on the two regional case studies. Grasslands occupy about 24% of the earth’s surface. To structure our analyses, a workshop was organized at STIAS (Stellenbosch Institute of Advanced Study) in South Africa, at which invited grassland experts (i.e., the authors) identified the major issues concerning the role of grasslands in supplying important ES. 1. Biodiversity. 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. The grassland ecosystem occupies about 25% of the total land area throughout the world. (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). 2017). Grasslands have many names—prairies in North America, Asian steppes, savannahs and veldts in Africa, Australian rangelands, and pampas, llanos and cerrados in South America. … Grasses are often taken for granted but actually are the most important plant group. We have shown that natural and semi‐natural grasslands, in addition to having high biodiversity, can supply additional services highly demanded from society, for example, water supply and flow regulation, carbon storage, erosion control, cultural values, pollination, and biological control of agricultural pests, and that appropriate management makes it possible to create synergies and avoid trade‐offs among many of these services. African Journal of Range & Forage Science. Rangelands and Grasslands provide many ecosystem services of vital importance for local communities, including climate regulation. The vast areas of SA grasslands are also important for biodiversity. 2008, Lindborg et al. 2. Traditional management of grasslands in terms of hay‐making has played an important role as social cohesion among villagers and still does (Stenseke 2009). They are also good for grazing livestock such as cattle. The new habitat for these animals can render large areas of forage lands sterile. Temperate grasslands are home to many large and small herbivores. 2014). However, in many cases the specific contribution of grasslands, rather than open landscapes in general, to cultural values has not been clarified. 2014). Three major types of grasslands can be distinguished within agricultural production systems: natural, semi‐natural, and improved grasslands (Bullock et al. 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). In North America, 80% of the central grasslands has been converted to cropland (Foley et al. The demands for water supply (quantity, quality, and flow regulation), livestock products, agricultural production‐related services, and recreation were generally high in both SA and NE. Grassland biomes are normally situated between a forest and a desert. The authors have no conflicts of interest to declare regarding this manuscript. 2011, SCAR 2011, Bommarco et al. Terms of Use, Privacy Policy, Cookie Policy, and Copyrights. This likely reflects the great decreases in semi‐natural and natural grasslands in NE. A statistical comparison of spatio‐temporal surface moisture patterns beneath a semi‐natural grassland and permanent pasture: From drought to saturation. Article Shared By. 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). 2011, SCAR 2011, Poppy et al. 2003, Verheijen et al. 2011, Hönigová 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. Grasslands are characterized as lands dominated by grasses rather than large shrubs or trees. Do grasslands act as a perpetual sink for carbon? 2016). In contrast, the finding that societal demand for ES in SA was often matched by supply from grasslands suggests that here more emphasis should be on improving management of existing grasslands and development of policies mitigating their decrease and degradation. 2008). 2017). 2001, Bullock et al. Grasslands of the Great Plains once acted as a virtually impenetrable barrier between wildlife and plants of eastern and western forests. Land Cover Classification using Google Earth Engine and Random Forest Classifier—The Role of Image Composition. Grassland ecosystem plays an important role in the animal kingdom. Grassland restorations are crucial for recovering this important but highly degraded ecosystem. The Grasslands Programme: Conserving a working landscape v Box 2. The ES found within each bundle are likely to be suitable to manage together. 2007). In fact, grasslands surround every desert in Asia. Any queries (other than missing content) should be directed to the corresponding author for the article. We identified three bundles of related ES from grasslands: water ES including fodder production, cultural ES connected to livestock production, and population‐based regulating services (e.g., pollination and biological control), which also linked to biodiversity. Permanent grasslands can, if not overgrazed or mismanaged, contribute greatly to soil erosion prevention, both in NE (e.g., Souchère et al. This ecosystem provides a large amount of energy to the environment. 2016) and the UK (Bullock et al. 2007), but the specific role of grasslands is less clear, as many studies report effects of landscape structure and non‐crop habitats in general. Grasslands (also called Greenswards) are areas where the vegetation is dominated by grasses and other herbaceous (non-woody) plants. 2015, Pascual et al. In most of these cases, the species involved are common and not of high conservation value. Two factors of prairie maintenance are fire and grazing. 2013). 2011, UK NEA 2011, O'Mara 2012), the productivity in natural and semi‐natural grasslands is lower than in improved grasslands and fodder‐producing fields. We argue that the multifunctional role of semi‐natural and natural grasslands is still surprisingly understudied compared to other production systems. 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. Besides having a high conservation value and supporting food production, grasslands may also be important contributors of ES (Sala and Paruelo 1997, Pilgrim et al. 2011, Lemaire et al. There is a grassland biome on each continent with the exception of Antarctica. Habitat. The water regulation capacity of grasslands (mainly timing and magnitude of stream flow) depends on season in both NE (Hönigová et al. 2003, Loreau et al. Plant biomass (fodder) production provides the basis for all grassland ES related to animal production. The climate regulation services were combined because they are difficult to examine separately. Similarly, more than 43 million hectares of the Eurasian steppe have been converted into cropland, and 60–80% of the grassland area in South America is degraded (Suttie et al. 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. However, these discussions usually neglect the role grasslands might play for food security (but see, e.g., Kemp and Michalk 2011, O'Mara 2012). 2015, Klumpp et al. 2010, Bellarby et al. Mixtures of trees and grasslands occur as savannas at transition zones with forests or where rainfall is marginal for trees. Grasslands have been playing a prominent role in biodiversity–ecosystem functioning research. Importance of grassland ecosystem. 2012). This would require less intensive grazing systems and use of rough grazing lands, but may have other environmental benefits, such as improved biodiversity in high nature value grasslands. In SA, this group only included mitigation of greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions. Nkambule 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. This bundle encompassed more services in SA than in NE; in SA, it also included use of medicinal plants, wild food, and materials. However, since many recreational activities are related to the broader landscape, it is difficult in NE to separate the role of semi‐natural grasslands from that of improved grassland (UK NEA 2011) and the overall heterogeneity of the landscape. 2014). 2015). 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. They are used to grow staple crops such as wheat and corn. When data were available and it was relevant, we also compared ES supply from grasslands with that from other ecosystems, including forest and cropland. 2016). Soil quality. 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 demand for water‐related services from grasslands is of fundamental importance in the largely semi‐arid SA and in similar regions requiring large‐scale management to guarantee sufficient water supply to areas of greatest water consumption in the region (Nel et al. 2008), and the increasing pressure on land as human populations grow (e.g., Holden and Otsuka 2014). 2011). Covering twice the area suitable for crop production, the potential role of grasslands for global food security should be better recognized. 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. But they are all places where there is too little rain for trees to grow in great numbers. Competition for land and other resources for agriculture is predicted to increase considerably by 2050 (FAO 2009, Smith et al. 2010, Foley et al. Biomass consumption and environmental footprints of beef cattle production in Argentina. 2014). Jonsson et al. Furthermore, grasslands are one of the largest biomes on earth and dominate the landscape worldwide. We must radically improve our understanding of grassland ecosystems in order to value them. 2013). Given the projected adverse effects of climate change on crop production, increasing food demand, and increased demand for energy and nutrient inputs, future food production most likely will need to use land areas that cannot, for various reasons, support crop production. However, such products are not considered important in Europe (Bullock et al. Restoration in the face of changing climate: importance of persistence, priority effects, and species diversity. Greenhouse gas emission mitigation seemed unrelated to the three bundles. 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