Feedstock Development projects
Potential Ecological Impacts of Agricultural Intensification: Invasiveness of Miscanthus Species
Representatives from the bioenergy industry have indicated a desire to improve future varieties of Miscanthus spp. to maximize production area and yield while minimizing the risk of escape into natural areas. While the Illinois clone of M. x giganteus is sterile and may be limited in the geographical range available for production, many varieties of the more cold- and drought tolerant M. sinensis have the potential for escape through fertile pollen and seeds. In tthis project, relevant solutions will be developed for an industry wishing to intensify production while minimizing invasion risk and regulatory burden. It is important for producers to know the conditions under which Miscanthus spp. can and cannot establish and grow successfully, not only for maximizing potential yields, but also for minimizing potential escape.
The potential for invasiveness is a concern when introducing any non-native taxon into a novel environment, and the sheer scale projected for non-native bioenergy plantations demands careful investigation of potential environmental impacts. Our research has focused on the invasion of bioenergy grasses (particularly Miscanthus species) into uncultivated areas, quantifying the responses of these grasses to environmental stressors and competitors, and characterizing the habitats that are most at risk of invasion. We have also contributed potential policy and industry solutions to the general problem of plant invasions, highlighting applications to bioenergy.
The potential for invasiveness is a concern when introducing any non-native taxon into a novel environment, and the sheer scale projected for non-native bioenergy plantations demands careful investigation of potential environmental impacts. Our research has focused on the invasion of bioenergy grasses (particularly Miscanthus spp.) into non-cultivated areas, quantifying the responses of these grasses to environmental stressors and competitors, and characterizing the habitats that are most at risk of invasion. We have also contributed potential policy and industry solutions to the general problem of plant invasions, highlighting applications to bioenergy.
Our overall project goals are to (1) study existing habitats where Miscanthus sinensis and M. sacchariflorus, parents of the bioenergy feedstock, M. x giganteus, have become naturalized, (2) study the seed biology of M. sinensis in order to identify the temperature and soil moisture requirements for germination of this invader, and (3) study regulatory systems dealing with invasive plant species throughout the U.S. In 2011 and 2012, we found that most invading Miscanthus spp. populations occur in disturbed habitats such as roadsides, rights-of-way, or railroad tracks, and it’s likely, at least in some situations, that the naturalized populations originated from landscape or nursery plantings. Along with these findings of settings in which Miscanthus spp. may invade, we are conducting an experiment in Illinois, Ontario, Virginia, and Ohio in order to study the environmental conditions necessary for M. sinensis seed germination and establishment. Combining the findings from both of these activities will enable us to better predict where future invasions may occur. Finally, we have been studying the regulatory effectiveness of state laws dealing with invasive plants. This work will likely lead to reform of current noxious weed listings, particularly as they deal with bioenergy crops.
Published in 2014
Natural History Survey of the Ornamental Grass Miscanthus sinensis in the Introduced Range, R. F. Dougherty, L.D. Quinn, A.B. Endres, T.B. Voigt, and J.N. Barney, Invasive Plant Science and Management, V. 7, pp. 113-120, 2014.
Bioenergy Feedstocks at Low Risk for Invasion in the U.S.: A ‘White List’ Approach, L. D. Quinn, D. Gordon, A. Glaser, D. Lieurance, and S.L. Flory, Bioenergy Research, doi: 10.1007/s12155-014-9503-z, July 2014.
Resolving Regulatory Uncertainty: Legislative Language for Potentially Invasive Bioenergy Feedstocks, L. D. Quinn, E. Scott, B. Endres, J. Barney, T. Voigt, and J. McCubbins, Global Change Biology – Bioenergy, doi: 10.1111/gcbb.12216, August 6, 2014.
Published in 2013
Why Not Harvest Existing Invaders for Bioethanol? Lauren D. Quinn, A. Bryan Endres, Thomas B. Voigt, Biological Invasions, doi: 10.1007/s10530-013-0591-z, November 2013.
Published in 2012
Frayed Seams in the ‘Patchwork Quilt’ of American Federalism: An Empirical Analysis of Invasive Plant Species Regulation, James McCubbins, A.Bryan Endres, Lauren Quinn, Jacob Barney, Environmental Law (In Press).
Navigating the ‘Noxious’ and ‘Invasive’ Regulatory Landscape: Suggestions for Improved Regulatory Performance, Lauren Quinn, Jacob Barney, James McCubbins, A. Bryan Endres, BioScience 63, pp. 124-131.
Light Response of Native and Introduced Miscanthus sinensis Seedlings, David Matlaga, Lauren Quinn, Adam Davis, J. Ryan Stewart, Invasive Plant Science and Management 5, pp. 363-374.
Environmental Tolerances of Miscanthus sinensis in Invasive and Native Populations, Lauren Quinn, J. Ryan Stewart, Toshihiko Yamada, Yo Toma, Masanori Saito, Katsuhisa Shimoda, Fabián Fernández, Bioenergy Research 5, pp. 139-148.
Genetic Comparison of Introduced and Native Populations of Miscanthus sinensis (Poaceae), A Potential Bioenergy Crop, Lauren Quinn, Theresa Culley, J. Ryan Stewart, Grassland Science 58, pp. 101-111.