The University of Southampton
University of Southampton Institutional Repository

Grassland biodiversity can pay

Grassland biodiversity can pay
Grassland biodiversity can pay
The biodiversity–ecosystem functioning (BEF) literature provides strong evidence of the biophysical basis for the potential profitability of greater diversity but does not address questions of optimal management. BEF studies typically focus on the ecosystem outputs produced by randomly assembled communities that only differ in their biodiversity levels, measured by indices such as species richness. Landholders, however, do not randomly select species to plant; they choose particular species that collectively maximize profits. As such, their interest is not in comparing the average performance of randomly assembled communities at each level of biodiversity but rather comparing the best-performing communities at each diversity level. Assessing the best-performing mixture requires detailed accounting of species’ identities and relative abundances. It also requires accounting for the financial cost of individual species’ seeds, and the economic value of changes in the quality, quantity, and variability of the species’ collective output—something that existing multifunctionality indices fail to do. This study presents an assessment approach that integrates the relevant factors into a single, coherent framework. It uses ecological production functions to inform an economic model consistent with the utility-maximizing decisions of a potentially risk-averse private landowner. We demonstrate the salience and applicability of the framework using data from an experimental grassland to estimate production relationships for hay and carbon storage. For that case, our results suggest that even a risk-neutral, profit-maximizing landowner would favor a highly diverse mix of species, with optimal species richness falling between the low levels currently found in commercial grasslands and the high levels found in natural grasslands.
Binder, Seth
7c7991d3-6c6e-40b9-90ef-2d7a537e0e6b
Isbell, Forest
3cca8843-a137-47e5-9105-1927e4a1e97c
Polasky, Stephen
7ceb05ce-faf9-45f7-aed1-684da7254f28
Catford, Jane A.
c80a4529-b7cb-4d36-aba8-f38de01ce729
Tilman, David
f7f46647-8529-4f1f-bce0-c6a848e1d0c5
Binder, Seth
7c7991d3-6c6e-40b9-90ef-2d7a537e0e6b
Isbell, Forest
3cca8843-a137-47e5-9105-1927e4a1e97c
Polasky, Stephen
7ceb05ce-faf9-45f7-aed1-684da7254f28
Catford, Jane A.
c80a4529-b7cb-4d36-aba8-f38de01ce729
Tilman, David
f7f46647-8529-4f1f-bce0-c6a848e1d0c5

Binder, Seth, Isbell, Forest, Polasky, Stephen, Catford, Jane A. and Tilman, David (2018) Grassland biodiversity can pay. Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences. (doi:10.1073/pnas.1712874115).

Record type: Article

Abstract

The biodiversity–ecosystem functioning (BEF) literature provides strong evidence of the biophysical basis for the potential profitability of greater diversity but does not address questions of optimal management. BEF studies typically focus on the ecosystem outputs produced by randomly assembled communities that only differ in their biodiversity levels, measured by indices such as species richness. Landholders, however, do not randomly select species to plant; they choose particular species that collectively maximize profits. As such, their interest is not in comparing the average performance of randomly assembled communities at each level of biodiversity but rather comparing the best-performing communities at each diversity level. Assessing the best-performing mixture requires detailed accounting of species’ identities and relative abundances. It also requires accounting for the financial cost of individual species’ seeds, and the economic value of changes in the quality, quantity, and variability of the species’ collective output—something that existing multifunctionality indices fail to do. This study presents an assessment approach that integrates the relevant factors into a single, coherent framework. It uses ecological production functions to inform an economic model consistent with the utility-maximizing decisions of a potentially risk-averse private landowner. We demonstrate the salience and applicability of the framework using data from an experimental grassland to estimate production relationships for hay and carbon storage. For that case, our results suggest that even a risk-neutral, profit-maximizing landowner would favor a highly diverse mix of species, with optimal species richness falling between the low levels currently found in commercial grasslands and the high levels found in natural grasslands.

Text
Binder et al. 2018_PNAS - Accepted Manuscript
Download (348kB)

More information

Accepted/In Press date: 26 February 2018
e-pub ahead of print date: 26 March 2018

Identifiers

Local EPrints ID: 419026
URI: http://eprints.soton.ac.uk/id/eprint/419026
PURE UUID: 2eb77a53-fdb1-4a99-a49c-6826333bcfe6
ORCID for Jane A. Catford: ORCID iD orcid.org/0000-0003-0582-5960

Catalogue record

Date deposited: 28 Mar 2018 16:30
Last modified: 17 Dec 2019 01:33

Export record

Altmetrics

Contributors

Author: Seth Binder
Author: Forest Isbell
Author: Stephen Polasky
Author: Jane A. Catford ORCID iD
Author: David Tilman

University divisions

Download statistics

Downloads from ePrints over the past year. Other digital versions may also be available to download e.g. from the publisher's website.

View more statistics

Atom RSS 1.0 RSS 2.0

Contact ePrints Soton: eprints@soton.ac.uk

ePrints Soton supports OAI 2.0 with a base URL of http://eprints.soton.ac.uk/cgi/oai2

This repository has been built using EPrints software, developed at the University of Southampton, but available to everyone to use.

We use cookies to ensure that we give you the best experience on our website. If you continue without changing your settings, we will assume that you are happy to receive cookies on the University of Southampton website.

×