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United States Department of Agriculture

Agricultural Research Service

Research Project: BIOLOGICALLY AND ECOLOGICALLY BASED KNOWLEDGE FOR INTEGRATED WEED MANAGEMENT SYSTEMS

Location: Global Change and Photosynthesis Research Unit

Title: Adding Biofuels to the Invasive Species Fire?

Authors
item Raghu, S - UNIV OF ILLINOIS
item Anderson, R - ILLINOIS STATE UNIV
item Daehler, C - UNIV OF HAWAII
item DAVIS, ADAM
item Wiedenmann, R - UNIV OF ARKANSAS
item Simberloff, D - UNIV OF TENNESSEE
item Mack, R - WASHINGTON STATE UNIV

Submitted to: Science
Publication Type: Peer Reviewed Journal
Publication Acceptance Date: September 5, 2006
Publication Date: September 22, 2006
Citation: Raghu, S., Anderson, R.C., Daehler, C., Davis, A.S., Wiedenmann, R.N., Simberloff, D., Mack, R.N. 2006. Adding biofuels to the invasive species fire? Science. 313:1742.

Interpretive Summary: Non-native (alien, introduced, non-indigenous) plants have served as valuable crops throughout history. Increasingly, research has been directed towards identifying new biofuel crops, including non-native species, as sources of energy. Several plant traits deemed characteristics of an ideal biomass crop are also features commonly found among invasive grasses: low energy into maintenance relative to the production of energy-rich biomass; efficient use of light, water and nutrients; C4 photosynthesis; nutrient translocation to storage organs during the non-growing season; and perennial growth. Some candidate species for biofuels, such as Miscanthus x. giganteus and Arundo donax, have many of these same traits. Introducing some plants as biofuel sources may be safe, but this assurance will only be evident following explicit agronomic and ecological risk-benefit analyses, which are already mandatory for the introduction of other potentially beneficial species. Such analyses will require agronomists and invasion biologists to collaboratively assess ecological risks prior to introducing potentially beneficial crops, or in carefully quarantined field plots, to ensure that we do not inadvertently add biofuels to the already raging invasive species fire.

Technical Abstract: Non-native (alien, introduced, non-indigenous) plants have served as valuable crops throughout history. Increasingly, research has been directed towards identifying new biofuel crops, including non-native species, as sources of energy. Several plant traits deemed characteristics of an ideal biomass crop are also features commonly found among invasive grasses: low energy into maintenance relative to the production of energy-rich biomass; efficient use of light, water and nutrients; C4 photosynthesis; nutrient translocation to storage organs during the non-growing season; and perennial growth. Some candidate species for biofuels, such as Miscanthus x. giganteus and Arundo donax, have many of these same traits. Introducing some plants as biofuel sources may be safe, but this assurance will only be evident following explicit agronomic and ecological risk-benefit analyses, which are already mandatory for the introduction of other potentially beneficial species. Such analyses will require agronomists and invasion biologists to collaboratively assess ecological risks prior to introducing potentially beneficial crops, or in carefully quarantined field plots, to ensure that we do not inadvertently add biofuels to the already raging invasive species fire.

Last Modified: 7/28/2014
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