Carbon Tradeoffs of Restoration and Provision of Endangered Species Habitat in a Fire-Maintained Forest

Katherine L. Martin, Matthew D. Hurteau, Bruce A Hungate, George W Koch, Malcolm P. North

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

18 Citations (Scopus)

Abstract

Forests are a significant part of the global carbon cycle and are increasingly viewed as tools for mitigating climate change. Natural disturbances, such as fire, can reduce carbon storage. However, many forests and dependent species evolved with frequent fire as an integral ecosystem process. We used a landscape forest simulation model to evaluate the effects of endangered species habitat management on carbon sequestration. We compared unmanaged forests (control) to forests managed with prescribed burning and prescribed burning combined with thinning. Management treatments followed guidelines of the recovery plan for the endangered red-cockaded woodpecker (RCW), which requires low-density longleaf pine (Pinus palustris) forest. The unmanaged treatment provided the greatest carbon storage, but at the cost of lost RCW habitat. Thinning and burning treatments expanded RCW habitat by increasing the dominance of longleaf pine and reducing forest density, but stored 22% less total ecosystem carbon compared to the control. Our results demonstrate that continued carbon sequestration and the provision of RCW habitat are not incompatible goals, although there is a tradeoff between habitat extent and total ecosystem carbon across the landscape. Management for RCW habitat might also increase ecosystem resilience, as longleaf pine is tolerant of fire and drought, and resistant to pests. Restoring fire-adapted forests requires a reduction in carbon. However, the size of the reduction, the effects on sequestration rates, and the co-benefits from other ecosystem services should be evaluated in the context of the specific forest community targeted for restoration.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)76-88
Number of pages13
JournalEcosystems
Volume18
Issue number1
DOIs
StatePublished - 2014

Fingerprint

forest fires
forest fire
endangered species
Restoration
Fires
Carbon
woodpeckers
Ecosystems
carbon
habitat
habitats
carbon sequestration
prescribed burning
Pinus
thinning (plants)
thinning
ecosystems
ecosystem
ecosystem resilience
Pinus palustris

Keywords

  • carbon sequestration
  • climate change
  • ecosystem services
  • endangered species
  • fire
  • longleaf pine
  • Pinus palustris
  • prescribed burning
  • red-cockaded woodpecker

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Ecology, Evolution, Behavior and Systematics
  • Environmental Chemistry
  • Ecology

Cite this

Carbon Tradeoffs of Restoration and Provision of Endangered Species Habitat in a Fire-Maintained Forest. / Martin, Katherine L.; Hurteau, Matthew D.; Hungate, Bruce A; Koch, George W; North, Malcolm P.

In: Ecosystems, Vol. 18, No. 1, 2014, p. 76-88.

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

Martin, Katherine L. ; Hurteau, Matthew D. ; Hungate, Bruce A ; Koch, George W ; North, Malcolm P. / Carbon Tradeoffs of Restoration and Provision of Endangered Species Habitat in a Fire-Maintained Forest. In: Ecosystems. 2014 ; Vol. 18, No. 1. pp. 76-88.
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