Forum for Science, Industry and Business

Sponsored by:     3M 
Search our Site:


Ecosystems with many plant species produce more and survive threats better


Prairie plants may also be good source of biofuel

Ecosystems containing many different plant species are not only more productive, they are better able to withstand and recover from climate extremes, pests and disease over long periods, according to a new study. It is the first experiment to gather enough data--over a sufficient time and in a controlled environment--to confirm a 50-year scientific debate about whether biodiversity stabilizes ecosystems.

The findings, published in this week’s issue of the journal Nature, are the result of 12 years of experiments conducted by David Tilman, an ecologist at the University of Minnesota, and colleagues Peter Reich of the University of Minnesota and Johannes Knops of the University of Nebraska. The research was conducted at the Cedar Creek Long-Term Ecological Research (LTER) site, one of 26 such National Science Foundation (NSF) sites.

"This study clearly demonstrates that stability of a plant community through time increases as species richness goes up," said Martyn Caldwell, program director in NSF’s Division of Environmental Biology, which funded the research. "Only a long-term field experiment can provide this information."

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

The research shows that ecosystems containing many different plant species are more productive than those containing only one species. A return to biodiversity may prove to be the key, Tilman and his colleagues believe, 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 said. "That’s a huge advantage. Biomass from diverse prairies can, for example, be used to make biofuels without the need for annual tilling, fertilizers and pesticides, which require energy and pollute the environment. Because they are perennials, you can plant a prairie once and mow it for biomass every fall, essentially forever," Tilman said.

The research was carried out in 168 plots, each of which was randomly planted with one to 16 perennial grasses and other prairie plants. Stability of plants in the plots depended upon diversity and root mass. Roots store nutrients and buffer against climate variations. Perennial prairie plants have far more root mass than crops such as corn, which must be replanted annually.

Cheryl Dybas | 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: Etching Microstructures with Lasers

Ultrafast lasers have introduced new possibilities in engraving ultrafine structures, and scientists are now also investigating how to use them to etch microstructures into thin glass. There are possible applications in analytics (lab on a chip) and especially in electronics and the consumer sector, where great interest has been shown.

This new method was born of a surprising phenomenon: irradiating glass in a particular way with an ultrafast laser has the effect of making the glass up to a...

Im Focus: Light-driven atomic rotations excite magnetic waves

Terahertz excitation of selected crystal vibrations leads to an effective magnetic field that drives coherent spin motion

Controlling functional properties by light is one of the grand goals in modern condensed matter physics and materials science. A new study now demonstrates how...

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...

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

Greater Range and Longer Lifetime

26.10.2016 | Power and Electrical Engineering

VDI presents International Bionic Award of the Schauenburg Foundation

26.10.2016 | Awards Funding

3-D-printed magnets

26.10.2016 | Power and Electrical Engineering

More VideoLinks >>>