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  1. Free, publicly-accessible full text available November 1, 2023
  2. Ponderosa pine forests in the southwestern United States of America are overly dense, increasing the risk of high-intensity stand-replacing wildfires that result in the loss of terrestrial carbon and release of carbon dioxide, contributing to global climate change. Restoration is needed to restore forest structure and function so that a more natural regime of higher frequency, lower intensity wildfires returns. However, restoration has been hampered by the significant cost of restoration and other institutional barriers. To create additional revenue streams to pay for restoration, the National Forest Foundation supported the development of a methodology for the estimation and verification of carbon offsets generated by the restoration of ponderosa pine forests in northern Arizona. The methodology was submitted to the American Carbon Registry, a prominent carbon registry, but it was ultimately rejected. This paper presents a post-mortem examination of that methodology and the reasons it was rejected in order to improve the development of similar methodologies in the future. Using a mixed-methods approach, this paper analyzes the potential atmospheric carbon benefits of the proposed carbon offset methodology and the public and peer-reviewed comments from the associated review of the methodology. Results suggest a misalignment between the priorities of carbon registries andmore »the context-specific ecosystem service benefits of this type of restoration; although findings confirm the potential for reductions in released carbon due to restoration, these results illuminate barriers that complicate registering these reductions as voluntary carbon offsets under current guidelines and best practices, especially on public land. These barriers include substantial uncertainty about the magnitude and timing of carbon benefits. Overcoming these barriers will require active reflexivity by the institutions that register voluntary carbon offsets and the institutions that manage public lands in the United States. Such reflexivity, or reconsideration of the concepts and purposes of carbon offsets and/or forest restoration, will allow future approaches to better align objectives for successfully registering restoration-based voluntary carbon offsets. Therefore, the results of this analysis can inform the development of future methodologies, policies, and projects with similar goals in the same or different landscapes.« less
  3. Free, publicly-accessible full text available August 12, 2023
  4. Coulson, Tim (Ed.)
  5. Mycorrhizal fungi are critical members of the plant microbiome, forming a symbiosis with the roots of most plants on Earth. Most plant species partner with either arbuscular or ectomycorrhizal fungi, and these symbioses are thought to represent plant adaptations to fast and slow soil nutrient cycling rates. This generates a second hypothesis, that arbuscular and ectomycorrhizal plant species traits complement and reinforce these fungal strategies, resulting in nutrient acquisitive vs. conservative plant trait profiles. Here we analyzed 17,764 species level trait observations from 2,940 woody plant species to show that mycorrhizal plants differ systematically in nitrogen and phosphorus economic traits. Differences were clearest in temperate latitudes, where ectomycorrhizal plant species are more nitrogen use- and phosphorus use-conservative than arbuscular mycorrhizal species. This difference is reflected in both aboveground and belowground plant traits and is robust to controlling for evolutionary history, nitrogen fixation ability, deciduousness, latitude, and species climate niche. Furthermore, mycorrhizal effects are large and frequently similar to or greater in magnitude than the influence of plant nitrogen fixation ability or deciduous vs. evergreen leaf habit. Ectomycorrhizal plants are also more nitrogen conservative than arbuscular plants in boreal and tropical ecosystems, although differences in phosphorus use are less apparent outsidemore »temperate latitudes. Our findings bolster current theories of ecosystems rooted in mycorrhizal ecology and support the hypothesis that plant mycorrhizal association is linked to the evolution of plant nutrient economic strategies.« less