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Climate Change and Ecosystem Services Output Efficiency in Southern Loblolly Pine Forests

Abstract

Forests provide myriad ecosystem services that are vital to humanity. With climate change, we expect to see significant changes to forests that will alter the supply of these critical services and affect human well-being. To better understand the impacts of climate change on forest-based ecosystem services, we applied a data envelopment analysis method to assess plot-level efficiency in the provision of ecosystem services in Florida natural loblolly pine (Pinus taeda L.) forests. Using field data for n = 16 loblolly pine forest plots, including inputs such as site index, tree density, age, precipitation, and temperatures for each forest plot, we assessed the relative plot-level production of three ecosystem services: timber, carbon sequestered, and species richness. The results suggested that loblolly pine forests in Florida were largely inefficient in the provision of these ecosystem services under current climatic conditions. Climate change had a small negative impact on the loblolly pine forests efficiency in the provision of ecosystem services. In this context, we discussed the reduction of tree density that may not improve ecosystem services production.

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Notes

  1. 1.

    The FIA database assigned a dummy variable for each plot to determine if the forest plot had at least one of the silvicultural treatments mentioned in the manuscript. In the case of the selected loblolly pine plots, although all of them were naturally regenerated, they had some level of silvicultural management. However, the database did not specify which of the treatments were employed.

  2. 2.

    The carbon in the above- and below-ground portion of the tree were measured in live trees with a diameter and dead trees with a diameter >2.54 cm dead trees with a diameter >12.5 cm; in case of the former, it was assumed to be one half of the value of the biomass in the tree (bole, stump, top, sapling, and woodland tree species); for the latter it is one half of the biomass of the roots (O’Connell et al. 2014).

  3. 3.

    Although the PINEMAP project objective is to increase carbon sequestration by loblolly pine forests by 15 % by 2030, the 2030–2100 time period is also a time horizon analyzed by PINEMAP to evaluate carbon sequestration later in the 21st century.

  4. 4.

    Site index at base age 25 years is expected to increase by 3–6 m on average by 2030, with a further 9 m increase by 2100 in the Southern U.S. (Teskey 2014; Bob Teskey, Warnell School of Forestry and Natural Resources, University of Georgia, personal communication, 26 March 2014). On average, an 8 % increase in total loblolly pine volume is obtained per 1 m increase in site index (with 1500 trees ha−1 and increasing site index from 20 to 25 m) (Carbon Resource Science Center 2014).

  5. 5.

    Iverson and Prasad (2001) reported a decrease in the loblolly pine type (up to 11 %) for different climatic scenarios between 2070–2100, and Mcnab et al. (2014) reported, on average, a 66 % reduction in the range of 37 tree species in the Florida Peninsula by 2060, and, in the case of loblolly pine, a 90 % decrease.

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Acknowledgments

The authors acknowledge the funding support through the Pine Integrated Network: Education, Mitigation, and Adaptation Project (PINEMAP), a Coordinated Agricultural Project funded by the USDA National Institute of Food and Agriculture, award #2011-68002-30185.

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Susaeta, A., Adams, D.C., Carter, D.R. et al. Climate Change and Ecosystem Services Output Efficiency in Southern Loblolly Pine Forests. Environmental Management 58, 417–430 (2016). https://doi.org/10.1007/s00267-016-0717-z

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Keywords

  • Climate change
  • Data envelopment analysis
  • Ecosystem services
  • Efficiency Loblolly pine