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Article Abstract – Wheeler et al. (2016)


Carbon and nitrogen storage in California sage scrub and non-native grassland habitats

Authors and affiliations:

Megan M. Wheeler1, Madison M. Dipman2, Tessa A. Adams2, Annemieke V. Ruina3, Colin R. Robins3, and Wallace M. Meyer III2

1Biology Department, Harvey Mudd College
2Biology Department, Pomona College
3W.M. Keck Science Department, Claremont McKenna, Pitzer, and Scripps Colleges


Journal of Arid Environments 129: 119-125 (2016)


Human activity has altered global carbon and nitrogen cycles, leading to changes in global temperatures and plant communities. Because atmospheric carbon (C) and nitrogen (N) concentrations are affected by storage in terrestrial vegetation and soil, it is critical to understand how conversions from native to non-native vegetation may alter the C and N storage potential of terrestrial landscapes. In this study, we compared C and N storage in native California sage scrub, non-native grassland, and recovering California sage scrub habitats in the spring and fall by determining the C and N content in aboveground biomass, litter, and surface soil. Significantly more C and N were stored in intact and recovering California sage scrub than in grassland habitats. Intact and recovering sage scrub did not differ significantly in C or N storage. Our results highlight that preserving and restoring California sage scrub habitat not only provides habitat for native biodiversity, but also increases carbon and nitrogen storage potential even without restoration to intact sage scrub.

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