Influence of Land-Use Intensification on Vegetation C-Stocks in an Alpine Valley from 1865 to 2003
MetadataShow full item record
SubjectCarbon stock; LTSER; HANPP; Land-use intensity; Forest management; Socio-economic drivers; Energy transition
The role of ecosystems as carbon (C) sinks or sources is intrinsically related to land-use intensity, which determines the land required for biomass production. Here, we systematically investigate the role of different land-use types including their land-use intensities on vegetation C-stocks (SCact) in the Stubai valley, located in the Austrian central Alps. After a period of high land-use impacts until 1954, indicated by massive C-depletion, land-use shifted to completely new courses. Polarization into high-intensity low-land areas and extensification at higher altitudes allowed for a tripling of SCact until 2003. The most important land-use change was the intensification of the livestock sector accompanied by abandonment of extensive grasslands and reduced harvest pressure on forests after WWII. Market integration, abundance of fossil energy carriers, as well as structural change of the economy were important underlying socio-economic drivers of these trends. However, despite this remarkable SCact increase, SCact amounted to only 62% of the potential carbon stocks (SCpot) in 2003. Although conversion of forests to agriculture clearly contributed the lion’s share to this SC-gap, forest management explains roughly one quarter of the SC-difference. We found that time-lags between land-use shifts and the establishment of a new C-climax had fundamental repercussions on recent C-dynamics in the study region. Apparently, the land system is still net-accumulating C, although land-use changes have peaked decades earlier. Our findings are crucial for the understanding of C-dynamics, including the role of land management and time-lags in mountainous regions, which are regarded key areas for terrestrial C-sequestration.
Showing items related by title, author, creator and subject.
Decomposing the land-use specific response of plant functional traits along environmental gradients Fontana V; Kohler M; Niedrist G; Bahn M; Tappeiner U; Frenck G (2017)Environmental conditions affect functional trait variability within communities and thus shape ecosystem properties. With the ability of plants to adapt morphologically and physiologically to changing abiotic conditions, ...
Diversity and frequency of clonal traits along natural and land-use gradients in grasslands of the Swiss Alps Wellstein, C; Kuss, P (2011)The frequency of clonal plants in different vegetation types is known to be influenced by environmental and land-use factors. However, the underlying behavior of individual clonal traits or clonal trait diversity has ...
Tasser E; Leitinger G; Tappeiner U (2017)Land use and climate change are both strong drivers of landscape transformation. Using a representative valley of the Central Alps (Stubai Valley, Tyrol, Austria) we assess (1) the historical and likely future spatial ...