A synoptic survey of ecosystem services from headwater catchments in the United States

Brian H Hill, Randall K. Kolka, Frank H. McCormick, Matthew A. Starry

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

17 Scopus citations

Abstract

Ecosystem production functions for water supply, climate regulation, and water purification were estimated for 568 headwater streams and their catchments. Results are reported for nine USA ecoregions. Headwater streams represented 74-80% of total catchment stream length. Water supply per unit catchment area was highest in the Northern Appalachian Mountains ecoregion and lowest in the Northern Plains. C, N, and P sequestered in trees were highest in Northern and Southern Appalachian and Western Mountain catchments, but C, N, and P sequestered in soils were highest in the Upper Midwest ecoregion. Catchment denitrification was highest in the Western Mountains. In-stream denitrification was highest in the Temperate Plains. Ecological production functions paired with published economic values for theses services revealed the importance of mountain catchments for water supply, climate regulation, and water purification per unit catchment area. The larger catchment sizes of the plains ecoregions resulted in their higher economic value compared to the other ecoregions. The combined potential economic value across headwater catchments was INT $14,000ha-1yr-1, or INT $30 millionyr-1 per catchment. The economic importance of headwater catchments is even greater considering that our study catchments statistically represent more than 2 million headwater catchments in the continental United States.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)106-115
Number of pages10
JournalEcosystem Services
Volume7
DOIs
StatePublished - Mar 1 2014

Keywords

  • C sequestration
  • Climate regulation
  • Denitrification
  • Headwater catchments
  • Water purification
  • Water supply

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