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Using Remote Sensing to Evaluate the Influence of Grassland Restoration Activities on Ecosystem Forage Provisioning Services

Authors

  • Carolyn M. Malmstrom,

    Corresponding author
    1. Department of Plant Biology, Michigan State University, East Lansing, MI 48824, U.S.A.
    2. The Center for Global Change and Earth Observations, Michigan State University, East Lansing, MI 48824, U.S.A.
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  • H. Scott Butterfield,

    1. Department of Plant Biology, Michigan State University, East Lansing, MI 48824, U.S.A.
    2. The Nature Conservancy, 201 Mission Street, 4th Floor, San Francisco, CA 94105, U.S.A.
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  • Christopher Barber,

    1. Department of Plant Biology, Michigan State University, East Lansing, MI 48824, U.S.A.
    2. Department of Geography, South Dakota State University, Brookings, SD 57007, U.S.A.
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  • Barbara Dieter,

    1. Dieter & Sons, Winters, CA 95694, U.S.A.
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  • Richard Harrison,

    1. Pete’s Valley Cattle, Woodland, CA 95695, U.S.A.
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  • Jiaquo Qi,

    1. The Center for Global Change and Earth Observations, Michigan State University, East Lansing, MI 48824, U.S.A.
    2. Department of Geography, Michigan State University, East Lansing, MI 48824, U.S.A.
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  • David Riaño,

    1. Department of Plant Biology, Michigan State University, East Lansing, MI 48824, U.S.A.
    2. CSTARS, University of California, Davis, CA 95616, U.S.A.
    3. Instituto de Economía y Geografía, Consejo Superior de Investigaciones Científicas (CSIC), Madrid 28006, Spain
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  • Abbie Schrotenboer,

    1. Department of Plant Biology, Michigan State University, East Lansing, MI 48824, U.S.A.
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  • Scott Stone,

    1. Yolo Land & Cattle, Woodland, CA 95695, U.S.A.
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  • Chantal J. Stoner,

    1. Department of Plant Biology, Michigan State University, East Lansing, MI 48824, U.S.A.
    2. Department of Environmental Science, Policy, and Management, University of California, Berkeley, CA 94720, U.S.A.
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  • Jeanne Wirka

    1. Audubon California, Winters, CA 95616, U.S.A.
    2. Audubon Canyon Ranch, Bouverie Preserve, Glen Ellen, CA 95442, U.S.A.
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Address correspondence to C. M. Malmstrom, email carolynm@msu.edu

Abstract

As valuation of ecosystem goods and services derived from ecological processes becomes increasingly important in environmental decision-making, the need to quantify how restoration activities influence ecosystem function has grown more urgent, particularly within income-generating or subsistence-providing landscapes where economic needs and biodiversity goals must be balanced. However, quantification of restoration effects is often hindered by logistical issues, which include (1) the difficulty of systematically monitoring responses over large areas and (2) lack or loss of comparison sites necessary for assessing treatment effect. We explored the use of remote sensing to quantify the effects of native grass seeding and prescribed burns on ecosystem forage provisioning services within a California (U.S.A.) rangeland landscape. We used Landsat time series to monitor forage (green biomass) dynamics within 296 ha of treatment areas—distributed throughout a 36-km2 watershed—for 6 years and to identify post hoc comparison areas when a priori comparisons were lacking. Remote sensing analysis documented gains and losses in forage provisioning services due to restoration efforts and provided critical information for adaptive management. Our results demonstrate the degree to which invaded grasslands can be resistant to change and suggest that increasing the functional complexity of restoration mixes might help increase forage availability and reduce opportunities for weed reinvasion.

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