Earth Science News  





. Biodiversity Key To Sustainable Biofuel

"Diverse prairie grasslands are 240 percent more productive than grasslands with a single prairie species," - David Tilman, Regents Professor of Ecology at the University of Minnesota.
by Staff Writers
Twin Cities MN (SPX) Jun 02, 2006
Ecosystems containing many different plant species are not only more productive, they are also better able to withstand and recover from climate extremes, pests and disease over long periods of time.

These findings, published in the June 1 issue of Nature, are the culmination of 12 years of experiments conducted by David Tilman, Regents Professor of Ecology at the University of Minnesota, to explore the value of biodiversity. The research was carried out at Cedar Creek Natural History Area, near Cambridge, a field station operated by the university's College of Biological Sciences.

"This is exciting because it shows that biodiversity can be used to produce a sustainable supply of biomass for biofuels," Tilman says.

For more than 50 years, scientists have debated the hypothesis that biodiversity stabilizes ecosystems. The University of Minnesota study is the first to provide enough data -- gathered over a sufficient time period in an experiment that controlled biodiversity to confirm the theory.

The time period of the study allowed researchers to evaluate the average net effects of diversity on resistance to and recovery from drought, pests, disease and other disturbances. Tilman and his collaborators began the work in the early 1990s and began publishing a series of landmark papers in 1994.

Biodiversity of global ecosystems has decreased as global population has increased because diverse ecosystems such as forests and prairies have been cleared to make way for agricultural fields planted with monocultures, buildings and roads.

Tilman's research has shown that ecosystems containing many different plant species are more productive than those containing only one of those species. A return to biodiversity may prove to be the key to meeting energy needs for the growing number of people on the planet and for restoring global ecosystems.

"Diverse prairie grasslands are 240 percent more productive than grasslands with a single prairie species," Tilman says. "That's a huge advantage. Biomass from diverse prairies can be used to make biofuels without the need for annual tilling, fertilizers and pesticides, which require energy and pollute the environment.

"High diversity allows us to produce biofuels with low inputs, and this means that we can get more energy from an acre of land, year after year, with high certainty. Because they are perennials, you can plant prairie grass once and mow it for biomass every fall essentially forever."

The research was carried out in 168 plots, each of which was randomly planted with 1-16 perennial grasses and other prairie plants. Over 12 years, rainfall during the growing season varied more than twofold and average daily high temperatures ranged from 21.5 C to 24.4 C. Stability was dependent on diversity and root mass. Roots store nutrients and buffer against climate variations. Prairie plants, which are perennials, have far more root mass than crops such as corn, which must be replanted annually.

Related Links
University of Minnesota

Market heats up for solar in Europe
Paris (AFP) Jun 1, 2006
The market for solar water heaters in Europe grew by 18 percent in 2005 compared with 2004 measured by installed equipment, according to provisional figures published on Thursday by Tecsol, a French consultancy that monitors the solar energy market.

.
Get Our Free Newsletters Via Email
  



  • VP wants quake relief delivered monthly, not daily
  • Indonesia quake toll soars as hospitals strained
  • Sprint Nextel Network Strengthened As Hurricane Season Looms
  • US develops hurricane evacuation plans for pets

  • Climate change could fuel fiercer hurricane cycles: researchers
  • Climate change: Arctic went from greenhouse to icehouse
  • Sea-Surface Warming Linked to Worse Tropical Storms Activity
  • Cutting Energy Waste Crucial To Forestalling Climate Change

  • Ancient City Reveals Life In Desert 2,200 Years Ago
  • Commercial Remote Sensing Satellite Market Stabilizing
  • Digital Globe and Getty Images To Supply Satellite Images To News Media
  • Intermap Technologies Receives Radar Mapping Contract

  • Ditch the tie, Japan tells workers as "Cool Biz" drive begins
  • Physicists Persevere In Quest For Inexhaustible Energy Source
  • Market heats up for solar in Europe
  • Biodiversity Key To Sustainable Biofuel

  • UN Reports AIDS Progress, But
  • Deaths Mount In Indonesia
  • Malaria, Potato Famine Pathogen Share Surprising Trait
  • Microbe Labs Proposed For California

  • Hebrew University Researchers Uncover Eight Previously Unknown Species
  • It Takes Energy To Make A Species
  • Marauding monkeys wreak havoc on Zanzibar isle
  • DNA Diet Makes For Some Vibrant Bugs

  • Pollution turning China's Yangtze river "cancerous"
  • 'Mercury Sponge' Technology Goes From Lab To Market
  • Managing Indian E-Waste
  • Finland hopes to clean up Russian shipping in Baltic

  • Ancient Etruscans Unlikely Ancestors Of Modern Tuscans
  • MIT Poet Develops 'Seeing Machine'
  • Robotic Joystick Reveals How Brain Controls Movement
  • Cure For Reading Glasses May Be In View

  • The content herein, unless otherwise known to be public domain, are Copyright 1995-2006 - SpaceDaily.AFP and UPI Wire Stories are copyright Agence France-Presse and United Press International. ESA PortalReports are copyright European Space Agency. All NASA sourced material is public domain. Additionalcopyrights may apply in whole or part to other bona fide parties. Advertising does not imply endorsement,agreement or approval of any opinions, statements or information provided by SpaceDaily on any Web page published or hosted by SpaceDaily. Privacy Statement