skip to main content
OSTI.GOV title logo U.S. Department of Energy
Office of Scientific and Technical Information

Title: Terrestrial acidification and ecosystem services: effects of acid rain on bunnies, baseball, and Christmas trees

Abstract

Often termed “acid rain,” combined nitrogen and sulfur deposition can directly and indirectly impact the condition and health of forest ecosystems. Researchers use critical loads (CLs) to describe response thresholds, and recent studies on acid-sensitive biological indicators show that forests continue to be at risk from terrestrial acidification. However, rarely are impacts translated into changes in “ecosystem services” that impact human well-being. Further, the relevance of this research to the general public is seldom communicated in terms that can motivate action to protect valuable resources. To understand how changes in biological indicators affect human well-being, we used the STEPS (Stressor–Ecological Production function–final ecosystem Services) Framework to quantitatively and qualitatively link CL exceedances to ecosystem service impacts. We specified the cause-and-effect ecological processes linking changes in biological indicators to final ecosystem services. The Final Ecosystem Goods and Services Classification System (FEGS-CS) was used within the STEPS Framework to classify the ecosystem component and the beneficiary class that uses or values the component. We analyzed two acid-sensitive tree species, balsam fir (Abies balsamea) and white ash (Fraxinus americana), that are common in northeastern USA. These well-known species provide habitat for animals and popular forest products that are relatable to a broad audience.more » We identified 160 chains with 10 classes of human beneficiaries for balsam fir and white ash combined, concluding that there are resources at risk that the public may value. Two stories resulting from these explorations into the cascading effects of acid rain on terrestrial resources are ideal for effective science communication: the relationship between (1) balsam fir as a popular Christmas tree and habitat for the snowshoe hare, a favorite of wildlife viewers, and (2) white ash because it is used for half of all baseball bats, fine wood products, and musical instruments. Thus, rather than focusing on biological indicators that may only be understood or appreciated by specific stakeholders or experts, this approach extends the analysis to include impacts on FEGS and humans. It also lays the foundation for developing stakeholder-specific narratives, quantitative measures of endpoints, and for conducting demand-based valuations of affected ecosystem services.« less

Authors:
 [1];  [2];  [3];  [4];  [3]
  1. Santa Monica Mountains National Recreation Area, Division of Planning Science and Resource Management, US National Park Service, Thousand Oaks California 91360 USA
  2. Office of Research and Development, National Center for Environmental Assessment, US Environmental Protection Agency, Research Triangle Park North Carolina 27709 USA
  3. RTI International, Research Triangle Park North Carolina 27709 USA
  4. Office of Research and Development, National Climate Assessment Global Change Impacts and Adaptations, Environmental Protection Agency, Crystal City Virginia 22202 USA
Publication Date:
Research Org.:
US Environmental Protection Agency, Research Triangle Park, NC (United States)
Sponsoring Org.:
USDOE; USEPA
OSTI Identifier:
1393577
Grant/Contract Number:  
DEB-1547041
Resource Type:
Journal Article: Accepted Manuscript
Journal Name:
Ecosphere
Additional Journal Information:
Journal Volume: 8; Journal Issue: 6; Journal ID: ISSN 2150-8925
Publisher:
Ecological Society of America
Country of Publication:
United States
Language:
English
Subject:
54 ENVIRONMENTAL SCIENCES

Citation Formats

Irvine, Irina C., Greaver, Tara, Phelan, Jennifer, Sabo, Robert D., and Van Houtven, George. Terrestrial acidification and ecosystem services: effects of acid rain on bunnies, baseball, and Christmas trees. United States: N. p., 2017. Web. doi:10.1002/ecs2.1857.
Irvine, Irina C., Greaver, Tara, Phelan, Jennifer, Sabo, Robert D., & Van Houtven, George. Terrestrial acidification and ecosystem services: effects of acid rain on bunnies, baseball, and Christmas trees. United States. doi:10.1002/ecs2.1857.
Irvine, Irina C., Greaver, Tara, Phelan, Jennifer, Sabo, Robert D., and Van Houtven, George. Thu . "Terrestrial acidification and ecosystem services: effects of acid rain on bunnies, baseball, and Christmas trees". United States. doi:10.1002/ecs2.1857. https://www.osti.gov/servlets/purl/1393577.
@article{osti_1393577,
title = {Terrestrial acidification and ecosystem services: effects of acid rain on bunnies, baseball, and Christmas trees},
author = {Irvine, Irina C. and Greaver, Tara and Phelan, Jennifer and Sabo, Robert D. and Van Houtven, George},
abstractNote = {Often termed “acid rain,” combined nitrogen and sulfur deposition can directly and indirectly impact the condition and health of forest ecosystems. Researchers use critical loads (CLs) to describe response thresholds, and recent studies on acid-sensitive biological indicators show that forests continue to be at risk from terrestrial acidification. However, rarely are impacts translated into changes in “ecosystem services” that impact human well-being. Further, the relevance of this research to the general public is seldom communicated in terms that can motivate action to protect valuable resources. To understand how changes in biological indicators affect human well-being, we used the STEPS (Stressor–Ecological Production function–final ecosystem Services) Framework to quantitatively and qualitatively link CL exceedances to ecosystem service impacts. We specified the cause-and-effect ecological processes linking changes in biological indicators to final ecosystem services. The Final Ecosystem Goods and Services Classification System (FEGS-CS) was used within the STEPS Framework to classify the ecosystem component and the beneficiary class that uses or values the component. We analyzed two acid-sensitive tree species, balsam fir (Abies balsamea) and white ash (Fraxinus americana), that are common in northeastern USA. These well-known species provide habitat for animals and popular forest products that are relatable to a broad audience. We identified 160 chains with 10 classes of human beneficiaries for balsam fir and white ash combined, concluding that there are resources at risk that the public may value. Two stories resulting from these explorations into the cascading effects of acid rain on terrestrial resources are ideal for effective science communication: the relationship between (1) balsam fir as a popular Christmas tree and habitat for the snowshoe hare, a favorite of wildlife viewers, and (2) white ash because it is used for half of all baseball bats, fine wood products, and musical instruments. Thus, rather than focusing on biological indicators that may only be understood or appreciated by specific stakeholders or experts, this approach extends the analysis to include impacts on FEGS and humans. It also lays the foundation for developing stakeholder-specific narratives, quantitative measures of endpoints, and for conducting demand-based valuations of affected ecosystem services.},
doi = {10.1002/ecs2.1857},
journal = {Ecosphere},
number = 6,
volume = 8,
place = {United States},
year = {Thu Jun 22 00:00:00 EDT 2017},
month = {Thu Jun 22 00:00:00 EDT 2017}
}

Journal Article:
Free Publicly Available Full Text
Publisher's Version of Record

Citation Metrics:
Cited by: 5 works
Citation information provided by
Web of Science

Save / Share: