Submitted to: Landscape Ecology Symposium
Publication Type: Abstract Only
Publication Acceptance Date: January 11, 2012
Publication Date: N/A
Technical Abstract: Growing energy demands and concerns for climate change have pushed forward the time line for biofuel production. However, the effect of large-scale biofuel production in the U.S. on the agricultural industry, primarily responsible for food production and livestock feed, and biodiversity levels of many taxa (amphibians, birds, mammals, and reptiles) remains unclear. This study presents the first quantitative analysis of these trade-offs in the face of climate change. Switchgrass (Panicum virgatum L.) is a promising candidate for cellulosic feedstock production. First, current and future (from 2080-2090) switchgrass productivity was estimated across the central and eastern U.S. using ALMANAC, a mechanistic model that simulates plant growth over time. Second, locations that minimize the impact on species richness of all four taxa groups and agricultural lands while maximizing biomass production were chosen using a spatial optimization algorithm. Under current climate conditions, regions that satisfy these conditions are located in Louisiana, southern Florida, Nebraska, and South Dakota. By 2080-2090, the only regions that still fulfill these conditions are in Nebraska and South Dakota. In order to minimize land conversion and loss of biodiversity, suitable areas for current and future climate change should be targeted for their long-term growth potential.