Prairie Dog Decline Reduces the Supply of Ecosystem Services and Leads to Desertification of Semiarid GrasslandsReportar como inadecuado




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Anthropogenic impacts on North American grasslands, a highly endangered ecosystem, have led to declines of prairie dogs, a keystone species, over 98% of their historical range. While impacts of this loss on maintenance of grassland biodiversity have been widely documented, much less is known about the consequences on the supply of ecosystem services. Here we assessed the effect of prairie dogs in the supply of five ecosystem services by comparing grasslands currently occupied by prairie dogs, grasslands devoid of prairie dogs, and areas that used to be occupied by prairie dogs that are currently dominated by mesquite scrub. Groundwater recharge, regulation of soil erosion, regulation of soil productive potential, soil carbon storage and forage availability were consistently quantitatively or qualitatively higher in prairie dog grasslands relative to grasslands or mesquite scrub. Our findings indicate a severe loss of ecosystem services associated to the absence of prairie dogs. These findings suggest that contrary to a much publicize perception, especially in the US, prairie dogs are fundamental in maintaining grasslands and their decline have strong negative impacts in human well – being through the loss of ecosystem services.



Autor: Lourdes Martínez-Estévez , Patricia Balvanera, Jesús Pacheco, Gerardo Ceballos

Fuente: http://plos.srce.hr/



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