The economic value of grassland species for carbon storage


Carbon storage by ecosystems is valuable for climate protection. Biodiversity conservation may help increase carbon storage, but the value of this influence has been difficult to assess. We use plant, soil, and ecosystem carbon storage data from two grassland biodiversity experiments to show that greater species richness increases economic value: Increasing species richness from 1 to 10 had twice the economic value of increasing species richness from 1 to 2. The marginal value of each additional species declined as species accumulated, reflecting the nonlinear relationship between species richness and plant biomass production. Our demonstration of the economic value of biodiversity for enhancing carbon storage provides a foundation for assessing the value of biodiversity for decisions about land management. Combining carbon storage with other ecosystem services affected by biodiversity may well enhance the economic arguments for conservation even further.


Copyright © 2017, The Authors. This is an open-access article distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial license, which permits use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, so long as the resultant use is not for commercial advantage and provided the original work is properly cited.


Carbon Storage, Biodiversity, Economic Value, Valuation, Species Diversity, Species Richness, Grassland, Social Cost of Carbon


Hungate, B. A., Barbier, E. B., Ando, A. W., Marks, S. P., Reich, P. B., van Gestel, N., Tilman, D., Knops, J. M., Hooper, D. U., Butterfield, B. J., & Cardinale, B. J. (2017). The economic value of grassland species for carbon storage. Science Advances, 3(4).