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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: Screening Bioenergy Feedstock Crops to Mitigate Invasion Risk

Authors
item Davis, Adam
item Cousens, Roger - UNIVERSITY OF MELBOURNE
item Hill, Jason - UNIVERSITY OF MINNESOTA
item Mack, Richard - WASHINGTON ST UNIVERSITY
item Simberloff, Daniel - UNIV OF TENN-KNOXVILLE
item Raghu, Sathyamurthy - QUEENSLAND UNIV OF TECH

Submitted to: Frontiers in Ecology and the Environment
Publication Type: Peer Reviewed Journal
Publication Acceptance Date: November 24, 2009
Publication Date: February 24, 2010
Citation: Davis, A.S., Cousens, R.D., Hill, J., Mack, R.N., Simberloff, D., Raghu, S. 2010. Screening Bioenergy Feedstock Crops to Mitigate Invasion Risk. Frontiers in Ecology and the Environment. doi:10.1890/090030

Interpretive Summary: Given the negative impacts of plant invasions, the large financial incentives to deploy biofuel species, and the potential positive role that bioenergy crops can play in offsetting the global rise in atmospheric CO2, there is an urgent need for methods to reduce the risks of dispersing such species at landscape and regional scales. Acting early to contain and prevent invasions is one of the key criteria for successful vegetation management. Yet there is currently very little research or outreach activity among weed scientists in the area of managing biofuel plant species. It was with this in mind that the WSSA Sustainable Agriculture Committee organized a symposium on "Invasive Plant Species and the new bioeconomy", held at the 2008 WSSA annual meeting. Key points to emerge from this meeting were that (a) the risks posed by biomass crops are real and need careful evaluation, (b) the relative risks and benefits of deployment of monocultures versus polycultures in production of bioenergy feedstocks needs more thorough examination, and (c) there is a an urgent need to subject biofuel crops to a quantitative ecological risk assessment framework and careful screening prior to spreading them across the landscape. The consensus that emerged from the symposium was that greater collaboration between invasion biologists and agronomists developing biomass crops could help prevent biofeedstock invasions.

Technical Abstract: The cultivation of plants solely for the production of fuel is gaining impetus globally. While biofuels offer potential benefits in the context of a carbon economy, a central challenge of such biofeedstock cultivation is the mitigation of any environmental risks that different candidate biomass crops may pose. Grappling with one dimension of risk posed by biofuel crops, viz. invasiveness was the central theme of a recent symposium held under the auspices of the Weed Science Society of America. Key points to emerge from this meeting were that (a) the risks posed by biomass crops are real and need careful evaluation, (b) the relative risks and benefits of deployment of monocultures versus polycultures in production of bioenergy feedstocks needs more thorough examination, and (c) there is a an urgent need to subject biofuel crops to a quantitative ecological risk assessment framework and careful screening prior to spreading them across the landscape. The consensus that emerged from the symposium was that greater collaboration between invasion biologists and agronomists developing biomass crops could help prevent biofeedstock invasions.

Last Modified: 9/1/2014
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