The long-term goal of this project is to develop an integrated, systems-based understanding of soil-water-plant-animal relationships influencing carbon sequestration and GHG emissions in rangeland ecosystems. Information generated from this study can be used to establish carbon sequestration baseline conditions, improve land management practices to increase carbon capture and storage, and inform policy regarding the subject.
Rangelands cover over half of the Earth's land surface and store 10 to 30 percent of total soil organic carbon (SOC). In rangelands, SOC may represent as much as 95 percent of the total terrestrial carbon pool, with the remainder of terrestrial carbon stored as plant biomass. Sound land management practices that maintain or enhance the resilience of rangeland ecosystems can prevent soil organic carbon and biomass carbon losses by decreasing the potential for encroachment of invasive vegetation species and catastrophic wildfire events. Well-managed rangeland ecosystems can contribute to increased carbon sequestration and mitigation of GHG emissions through increased soil water infiltration, fine-fuel reduction, and improved soil, water, and vegetation conditions overall.