Forum for Science, Industry and Business

Sponsored by:     3M 
Search our Site:


Biodiversity key to sustainable biofuel according to University of Minn. researcher’s findings


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.

Mark Cassutt | EurekAlert!
Further information:

More articles from Ecology, The Environment and Conservation:

nachricht Invasive Insects Cost the World Billions Per Year
04.10.2016 | University of Adelaide

nachricht Malaysia's unique freshwater mussels in danger
27.09.2016 | The University of Nottingham Malaysia Campus

All articles from Ecology, The Environment and Conservation >>>

The most recent press releases about innovation >>>

Die letzten 5 Focus-News des innovations-reports im Überblick:

Im Focus: New 3-D wiring technique brings scalable quantum computers closer to reality

Researchers from the Institute for Quantum Computing (IQC) at the University of Waterloo led the development of a new extensible wiring technique capable of controlling superconducting quantum bits, representing a significant step towards to the realization of a scalable quantum computer.

"The quantum socket is a wiring method that uses three-dimensional wires based on spring-loaded pins to address individual qubits," said Jeremy Béjanin, a PhD...

Im Focus: Scientists develop a semiconductor nanocomposite material that moves in response to light

In a paper in Scientific Reports, a research team at Worcester Polytechnic Institute describes a novel light-activated phenomenon that could become the basis for applications as diverse as microscopic robotic grippers and more efficient solar cells.

A research team at Worcester Polytechnic Institute (WPI) has developed a revolutionary, light-activated semiconductor nanocomposite material that can be used...

Im Focus: Diamonds aren't forever: Sandia, Harvard team create first quantum computer bridge

By forcefully embedding two silicon atoms in a diamond matrix, Sandia researchers have demonstrated for the first time on a single chip all the components needed to create a quantum bridge to link quantum computers together.

"People have already built small quantum computers," says Sandia researcher Ryan Camacho. "Maybe the first useful one won't be a single giant quantum computer...

Im Focus: New Products - Highlights of COMPAMED 2016

COMPAMED has become the leading international marketplace for suppliers of medical manufacturing. The trade fair, which takes place every November and is co-located to MEDICA in Dusseldorf, has been steadily growing over the past years and shows that medical technology remains a rapidly growing market.

In 2016, the joint pavilion by the IVAM Microtechnology Network, the Product Market “High-tech for Medical Devices”, will be located in Hall 8a again and will...

Im Focus: Ultra-thin ferroelectric material for next-generation electronics

'Ferroelectric' materials can switch between different states of electrical polarization in response to an external electric field. This flexibility means they show promise for many applications, for example in electronic devices and computer memory. Current ferroelectric materials are highly valued for their thermal and chemical stability and rapid electro-mechanical responses, but creating a material that is scalable down to the tiny sizes needed for technologies like silicon-based semiconductors (Si-based CMOS) has proven challenging.

Now, Hiroshi Funakubo and co-workers at the Tokyo Institute of Technology, in collaboration with researchers across Japan, have conducted experiments to...

All Focus news of the innovation-report >>>



Event News

#IC2S2: When Social Science meets Computer Science - GESIS will host the IC2S2 conference 2017

14.10.2016 | Event News

Agricultural Trade Developments and Potentials in Central Asia and the South Caucasus

14.10.2016 | Event News

World Health Summit – Day Three: A Call to Action

12.10.2016 | Event News

Latest News

Resolving the mystery of preeclampsia

21.10.2016 | Health and Medicine

Stanford researchers create new special-purpose computer that may someday save us billions

21.10.2016 | Information Technology

From ancient fossils to future cars

21.10.2016 | Materials Sciences

More VideoLinks >>>