Potential soil carbon sequestration in overgrazed grassland ecosystems

Conant, Richard T. & Paustian, Keith (2002) Potential soil carbon sequestration in overgrazed grassland ecosystems. Global Biogeochemical Cycles, 16(4), 90-1---90-9.

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Excessive grazing pressure is detrimental to plant productivity and may lead to declines in soil organic matter. Soil organic matter is an important source of plant nutrients and can enhance soil aggregation, limit soil erosion, and can also increase cation exchange and water holding capacities, and is, therefore, a key regulator of grassland ecosystem processes. Changes in grassland management which reverse the process of declining productivity can potentially lead to increased soil C. Thus, rehabilitation of areas degraded by overgrazing can potentially sequester atmospheric C. We compiled data from the literature to evaluate the influence of grazing intensity on soil C. Based on data contained within these studies, we ascertained a positive linear relationship between potential C sequestration and mean annual precipitation which we extrapolated to estimate global C sequestration potential with rehabilitation of overgrazed grassland. The GLASOD and IGBP DISCover data sets were integrated to generate a map of overgrazed grassland area for each of four severity classes on each continent. Our regression model predicted losses of soil C with decreased grazing intensity in drier areas (precipitation less than 333 mm yr(-1)), but substantial sequestration in wetter areas. Most (93%) C sequestration potential occurred in areas with MAP less than 1800 mm. Universal rehabilitation of overgrazed grasslands can sequester approximately 45 Tg C yr(-1), most of which can be achieved simply by cessation of overgrazing and implementation of moderate grazing intensity. Institutional level investments by governments may be required to sequester additional C.

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57 citations in Web of Science®
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ID Code: 37784
Item Type: Journal Article
Refereed: Yes
Keywords: soil organic matter (SOM), soil aggregation, atmospheric C, grassland management
DOI: 10.1029/2001GB001661
ISSN: 0886-6236
Subjects: Australian and New Zealand Standard Research Classification > ENVIRONMENTAL SCIENCES (050000) > ECOLOGICAL APPLICATIONS (050100)
Australian and New Zealand Standard Research Classification > ENVIRONMENTAL SCIENCES (050000) > SOIL SCIENCES (050300)
Divisions: Past > Institutes > Institute for Sustainable Resources
Copyright Owner: Copyright 2002 American Geophysical Union
Deposited On: 08 Oct 2010 02:19
Last Modified: 23 Jun 2017 14:41

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