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Invited Review: Ecosystem services provided by grasslands in the Southeast United States

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      ABSTRACT

      Purpose

      This review describes ecosystem services (ES) obtained from grasslands within the southeastern United States. In addition, future direction and the importance of these ES to sustain productive agroecosystems are de- scribed.

      Sources

      Results from published studies investigating various ES provided by grasslands within the southeastern United States are summarized in this article.

      Synthesis

      Ecosystem services can be classified into 4 categories: provisioning, regulating, supporting, and cul- tural. Grasslands in the southeastern United States range from wet prairies in Florida, to transitional grasslands emerging from tallgrass prairie and longleaf pine ecosys- tems into coastal marshes in Texas. Provisioning ES from grasslands include animal products, timber, fruits, pods, and medicinal products. Supporting and regulating ES in- clude nutrient cycling, biological nitrogen fixation, water catchment and purification, recharge of aquifers, climate regulation, primary productivity, habitat for wildlife and pollinators, and biodiversity. Grasslands are also impor- tant for aesthetic and cultural ES, including hunting leases and recreational parks.

      Conclusions and Applications

      Grasslands in the southeastern United States have decreased due to urban- ization, rising livestock production costs, and decreases in seed resources. Providing ES assessments will be impor- tant to assign value to grassland ecosystems, especially to increase adoption of novel management practices that may enhance delivery of ES. Remote sensing, machine learning, and artificial intelligence are promising tools to scale up the measurement of ES at landscape and watershed levels. In the future, ES will likely be a more prominent component of agroecosystems, and payment mechanisms will become more common to compensate landowners for the benefit they provide for the entire society.

      Key words

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