Research ArticleECOSYSTEM MANAGEMENT

The economic value of grassland species for carbon storage

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Science Advances  05 Apr 2017:
Vol. 3, no. 4, e1601880
DOI: 10.1126/sciadv.1601880
  • Fig. 1 Marginal carbon storage, which is the incremental change in cumulative carbon storage over 50 years caused by adding one additional species, as a function of final species richness, estimated from two grassland experiments (BioCON shown in gray; BigBio in blue).

    Means are shown in solid lines, with shaded regions indicating 95% confidence intervals estimated from bootstrapping for plant carbon (top), soil carbon (middle), and total ecosystem carbon (bottom).

  • Fig. 2 Marginal carbon accumulation over time at different levels of species richness.

    Each line shows the additional carbon accumulated over time caused by increasing species richness by one species. Numeric labels on each curve indicate the specific increment in species richness, with “2” indicating the marginal carbon accumulation caused by increasing S from 1 to 2, “3” indicating the marginal carbon accumulation caused by increasing S from 2 to 3, etc., up to 16.

  • Fig. 3 Marginal present discounted economic value over 50 years from adding one species as a function of final species richness, using three estimates of the social cost of carbon: low (green), medium (blue), and high (purple) estimates described by the U.S. government (25) and in Materials and Methods.

    Marginal values were estimated from the two grassland experiments shown in Fig. 1 and are expressed here as USD (2010) per species per hectare, integrated over 50 years. (A) The marginal values for BigBio. (B) The marginal values for BioCON. Lines indicate means for each of the three estimates for the social cost of carbon. Shaded regions indicate 95% confidence intervals. For ease of visualization of values for BioCON, the confidence interval for the high estimate of the social cost of carbon is truncated at species richness of 15, and the confidence interval for the low estimate of the social cost of carbon begins at species richness of 3. For orientation, the position on the y axis (ordinate) corresponding to the x axis (abscissa) value of 5 shows the marginal value of adding the fifth species to a grassland initially containing four species.

  • Table 1 Marginal values of carbon stored by additional species to a grassland ecosystem for three carbon prices capturing the range summarized by the Interagency Working Group on the Social Cost of Carbon (25).

    Values are means and 95% confidence intervals in $ sp−1 ha−1 for ecosystem carbon (soil and plants) averaged across the BigBIO and BioCon grassland experiments. Values are in 2010 U.S. dollar (USD).

    Number of speciesMedium estimate
    of social cost of
    C ($137.26 MT C−1)
    Low estimate
    of social cost of
    C ($41.94 MT C−1)
    High estimate
    of social cost of
    C ($400.33 MT C−1)
    2$804.55 ($524.3–$1059.54)$245.83 ($160.2–$323.74)$2346.54 ($1529.16–$3090.24)
    3$333.38 ($201.36–$473.06)$101.87 ($61.52–$144.54)$972.33 ($587.27–$1379.72)
    4$183.05 ($107.8–$268.18)$55.93 ($32.94–$81.94)$533.89 ($314.41–$782.17)
    5$115.83 ($67.21–$174.15)$35.39 ($20.54–$53.21)$337.84 ($196.03–$507.94)
    6$79.94 ($45.83–$123.40)$24.43 ($14.00–$37.71)$233.15 ($133.66–$359.91)
    7$58.50 ($33.19–$91.64)$17.88 ($10.14–$28.00)$170.63 ($96.81–$267.26)
    8$44.68 ($25.15–$70.43)$13.65 ($7.68–$21.52)$130.31 ($73.35–$205.43)
    9$35.24 ($19.71–$56.20)$10.77 ($6.02–$17.17)$102.77 ($57.50–$163.90)
    10$28.51 ($15.87–$45.89)$8.71 ($4.85–$14.02)$83.14 ($46.29–$133.83)
    11$23.54 ($13.05–$38.06)$7.19 ($3.99–$11.63)$68.64 ($38.06–$111.00)
    12$19.76 ($10.92–$32.08)$6.04 ($3.34–$9.80)$57.63 ($31.85–$93.56)
    13$16.83 ($9.27–$27.41)$5.14 ($2.83–$8.37)$49.08 ($27.04–$79.93)
    14$14.50 ($7.97–$23.68)$4.43 ($2.44–$7.24)$42.30 ($23.25–$69.08)
    15$12.63 ($6.93–$20.67)$3.86 ($2.12–$6.32)$36.83 ($20.20–$60.30)
    16$11.10 ($6.07–$18.20)$3.39 ($1.86–$5.56)$32.36 ($17.72–$53.09)

Supplementary Materials

  • Supplementary material for this article is available at http://advances.sciencemag.org/cgi/content/full/3/4/e1601880/DC1

    S1. Measured soil carbon in the BioCON and BigBio experiments compared to soil carbon modeled using data assimilation and the I-k model.

    S2. Michaelis-Menten parameters for plant, soil (at year 50), and total C (at year 50) as a function of species richness.

    S3. List of species (by binomial name, common name, and functional group) included in the BioCON and BigBio experiments at the Cedar Creek Long-Term Ecological Research (LTER) site.

    S4. R code for estimating marginal carbon and value for the BioCON experiment.

    S5. R code function for estimating Michaelis-Menten parameters relating species richness to carbon stocks.

  • Supplementary Materials

    This PDF file includes:

    • S1. Measured soil carbon in the BioCON and BigBio experiments compared to soil carbon modeled using data assimilation and the I-k model
    • S2. Michaelis-Menten parameters for plant, soil (at year 50), and total C (at year 50) as a function of species richness
    • S3. List of species (by binomial name, common name, and functional group) included in the BioCON and BigBio experiments at the Cedar Creek Long-Term Ecological Research (LTER) site
    • S4. R code for estimating marginal carbon and value for the BioCON experiment
    • S5. R code function for estimating Michaelis-Menten parameters relating species richness to carbon stocks

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