An ecosystem services perspective on brush management: Research priorities for competing land-use objectives

Steve Archer, Katharine I. Predick

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

46 Citations (Scopus)

Abstract

1. The vegetation of semi-arid and arid landscapes is often comprised of mixtures of herbaceous and woody vegetation. Since the early 1900s, shifts from herbaceous to woody plant dominance, termed woody plant encroachment and widely regarded as a state change, have occurred world-wide. This shift presents challenges to the conservation of grassland and savanna ecosystems and to animal production in commercial ranching systems and pastoral societies. 2. Dryland management focused on cattle and sheep grazing has historically attempted to reduce the abundance of encroaching woody vegetation (hereafter, 'brush management') with the intent of reversing declines in forage production, stream flow or groundwater recharge. Here, we assess the known and potential consequences of brush management actions, both positive and negative, on a broader suite of ecosystem services, the scientific challenges to quantifying these services and the trade-offs among them. 3. Our synthesis suggests that despite considerable investments accompanying the application of brush management practices, the recovery of key ecosystem services may be short-lived or absent. However, in the absence of such interventions, those and other ecosystem services may be compromised, and the persistence of grassland and savanna ecosystem types and their endemic plants and animals threatened. 4. Addressing the challenges posed by woody plant encroachment will require integrated management systems using diverse theoretical principles to design the type, timing and spatial arrangement of initial management actions and follow-up treatments. These management activities will need to balance cultural traditions and preferences, socio-economic constraints and potentially competing land-use objectives. 5. Synthesis. Our ability to predict ecosystem responses to management aimed at recovering ecosystem services where grasslands and savannas have been invaded by native or exotic woody plants is limited for many attributes (e.g. primary production, land surface-atmosphere interactions, biodiversity conservation) and inconsistent for others (e.g. forage production, herbaceous diversity, water quality/quantity, soil erosion, carbon sequestration). The ecological community is challenged with generating robust information about the response of ecosystem services and their interactions if we are to position land managers and policymakers to make objective, science-based decisions regarding the many trade-offs and competing objectives for the conservation and dynamic management of grasslands and savannas.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)1394-1407
Number of pages14
JournalJournal of Ecology
Volume102
Issue number6
DOIs
StatePublished - Nov 1 2014

Fingerprint

brush control
ecosystem service
ecosystem services
woody plants
land use
savannas
woody plant
savanna
forage production
grasslands
grassland
vegetation
ecosystems
forage
synthesis
groundwater recharge
range management
ranching
stream flow
animal production

Keywords

  • Bush clearing
  • Drylands
  • Ecosystem services
  • Shrub encroachment
  • State change
  • Vegetation change
  • Woody plant encroachment
  • Woody weeds

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Ecology, Evolution, Behavior and Systematics
  • Ecology
  • Plant Science

Cite this

An ecosystem services perspective on brush management : Research priorities for competing land-use objectives. / Archer, Steve; Predick, Katharine I.

In: Journal of Ecology, Vol. 102, No. 6, 01.11.2014, p. 1394-1407.

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

@article{159f79aec1cc4e56808a99d748e50b93,
title = "An ecosystem services perspective on brush management: Research priorities for competing land-use objectives",
abstract = "1. The vegetation of semi-arid and arid landscapes is often comprised of mixtures of herbaceous and woody vegetation. Since the early 1900s, shifts from herbaceous to woody plant dominance, termed woody plant encroachment and widely regarded as a state change, have occurred world-wide. This shift presents challenges to the conservation of grassland and savanna ecosystems and to animal production in commercial ranching systems and pastoral societies. 2. Dryland management focused on cattle and sheep grazing has historically attempted to reduce the abundance of encroaching woody vegetation (hereafter, 'brush management') with the intent of reversing declines in forage production, stream flow or groundwater recharge. Here, we assess the known and potential consequences of brush management actions, both positive and negative, on a broader suite of ecosystem services, the scientific challenges to quantifying these services and the trade-offs among them. 3. Our synthesis suggests that despite considerable investments accompanying the application of brush management practices, the recovery of key ecosystem services may be short-lived or absent. However, in the absence of such interventions, those and other ecosystem services may be compromised, and the persistence of grassland and savanna ecosystem types and their endemic plants and animals threatened. 4. Addressing the challenges posed by woody plant encroachment will require integrated management systems using diverse theoretical principles to design the type, timing and spatial arrangement of initial management actions and follow-up treatments. These management activities will need to balance cultural traditions and preferences, socio-economic constraints and potentially competing land-use objectives. 5. Synthesis. Our ability to predict ecosystem responses to management aimed at recovering ecosystem services where grasslands and savannas have been invaded by native or exotic woody plants is limited for many attributes (e.g. primary production, land surface-atmosphere interactions, biodiversity conservation) and inconsistent for others (e.g. forage production, herbaceous diversity, water quality/quantity, soil erosion, carbon sequestration). The ecological community is challenged with generating robust information about the response of ecosystem services and their interactions if we are to position land managers and policymakers to make objective, science-based decisions regarding the many trade-offs and competing objectives for the conservation and dynamic management of grasslands and savannas.",
keywords = "Bush clearing, Drylands, Ecosystem services, Shrub encroachment, State change, Vegetation change, Woody plant encroachment, Woody weeds",
author = "Steve Archer and Predick, {Katharine I.}",
year = "2014",
month = "11",
day = "1",
doi = "10.1111/1365-2745.12314",
language = "English (US)",
volume = "102",
pages = "1394--1407",
journal = "Journal of Ecology",
issn = "0022-0477",
publisher = "Wiley-Blackwell",
number = "6",

}

TY - JOUR

T1 - An ecosystem services perspective on brush management

T2 - Research priorities for competing land-use objectives

AU - Archer, Steve

AU - Predick, Katharine I.

PY - 2014/11/1

Y1 - 2014/11/1

N2 - 1. The vegetation of semi-arid and arid landscapes is often comprised of mixtures of herbaceous and woody vegetation. Since the early 1900s, shifts from herbaceous to woody plant dominance, termed woody plant encroachment and widely regarded as a state change, have occurred world-wide. This shift presents challenges to the conservation of grassland and savanna ecosystems and to animal production in commercial ranching systems and pastoral societies. 2. Dryland management focused on cattle and sheep grazing has historically attempted to reduce the abundance of encroaching woody vegetation (hereafter, 'brush management') with the intent of reversing declines in forage production, stream flow or groundwater recharge. Here, we assess the known and potential consequences of brush management actions, both positive and negative, on a broader suite of ecosystem services, the scientific challenges to quantifying these services and the trade-offs among them. 3. Our synthesis suggests that despite considerable investments accompanying the application of brush management practices, the recovery of key ecosystem services may be short-lived or absent. However, in the absence of such interventions, those and other ecosystem services may be compromised, and the persistence of grassland and savanna ecosystem types and their endemic plants and animals threatened. 4. Addressing the challenges posed by woody plant encroachment will require integrated management systems using diverse theoretical principles to design the type, timing and spatial arrangement of initial management actions and follow-up treatments. These management activities will need to balance cultural traditions and preferences, socio-economic constraints and potentially competing land-use objectives. 5. Synthesis. Our ability to predict ecosystem responses to management aimed at recovering ecosystem services where grasslands and savannas have been invaded by native or exotic woody plants is limited for many attributes (e.g. primary production, land surface-atmosphere interactions, biodiversity conservation) and inconsistent for others (e.g. forage production, herbaceous diversity, water quality/quantity, soil erosion, carbon sequestration). The ecological community is challenged with generating robust information about the response of ecosystem services and their interactions if we are to position land managers and policymakers to make objective, science-based decisions regarding the many trade-offs and competing objectives for the conservation and dynamic management of grasslands and savannas.

AB - 1. The vegetation of semi-arid and arid landscapes is often comprised of mixtures of herbaceous and woody vegetation. Since the early 1900s, shifts from herbaceous to woody plant dominance, termed woody plant encroachment and widely regarded as a state change, have occurred world-wide. This shift presents challenges to the conservation of grassland and savanna ecosystems and to animal production in commercial ranching systems and pastoral societies. 2. Dryland management focused on cattle and sheep grazing has historically attempted to reduce the abundance of encroaching woody vegetation (hereafter, 'brush management') with the intent of reversing declines in forage production, stream flow or groundwater recharge. Here, we assess the known and potential consequences of brush management actions, both positive and negative, on a broader suite of ecosystem services, the scientific challenges to quantifying these services and the trade-offs among them. 3. Our synthesis suggests that despite considerable investments accompanying the application of brush management practices, the recovery of key ecosystem services may be short-lived or absent. However, in the absence of such interventions, those and other ecosystem services may be compromised, and the persistence of grassland and savanna ecosystem types and their endemic plants and animals threatened. 4. Addressing the challenges posed by woody plant encroachment will require integrated management systems using diverse theoretical principles to design the type, timing and spatial arrangement of initial management actions and follow-up treatments. These management activities will need to balance cultural traditions and preferences, socio-economic constraints and potentially competing land-use objectives. 5. Synthesis. Our ability to predict ecosystem responses to management aimed at recovering ecosystem services where grasslands and savannas have been invaded by native or exotic woody plants is limited for many attributes (e.g. primary production, land surface-atmosphere interactions, biodiversity conservation) and inconsistent for others (e.g. forage production, herbaceous diversity, water quality/quantity, soil erosion, carbon sequestration). The ecological community is challenged with generating robust information about the response of ecosystem services and their interactions if we are to position land managers and policymakers to make objective, science-based decisions regarding the many trade-offs and competing objectives for the conservation and dynamic management of grasslands and savannas.

KW - Bush clearing

KW - Drylands

KW - Ecosystem services

KW - Shrub encroachment

KW - State change

KW - Vegetation change

KW - Woody plant encroachment

KW - Woody weeds

UR - http://www.scopus.com/inward/record.url?scp=84925763794&partnerID=8YFLogxK

UR - http://www.scopus.com/inward/citedby.url?scp=84925763794&partnerID=8YFLogxK

U2 - 10.1111/1365-2745.12314

DO - 10.1111/1365-2745.12314

M3 - Article

AN - SCOPUS:84925763794

VL - 102

SP - 1394

EP - 1407

JO - Journal of Ecology

JF - Journal of Ecology

SN - 0022-0477

IS - 6

ER -