Biofuel Impact on Biodiversity
Great Lakes Bioenergy Research Center
Nations around the world are setting goals to increase production of energy from plant matter harvested from bioenergy crops. We currently have the unique opportunity to use science to inform how these crops are grown, and envision an agriculture that promotes multiple ecosystem services. The Landis lab is aiming to understand how production of different types of bioenergy crops will affect control of pests by natural enemies, both in bioenergy crops and the food crops they will share the landscape with. Results suggest that perennial grasslands could promote natural pest control at local and landscape scales. Specifically, predation of pests is greater in grassland compared to annual bioenergy crops, and increases in landscapes with extensive perennial habitat. Current work is focusing on how changes in predation of pests translate into yield benefits in landscapes with and without perennial habitats. This is part of a broader research effort we are coordinating within the Great Lakes Bioenergy Research Center, which is producing landscape-level models to predict how production of different bioenergy crops will alter ecosystem services in Michigan and across the upper Midwest. This is an exciting opportunity to proactively use science to help society manage agricultural lands to promote ecosystem services and their contribution to sustainable crop production.