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Corpus Systématique Végétale

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Experimental approaches for evaluating the invasion risk of biofuel crops

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  • Letter
  • Special Issue on Second generation biofuels and sustainability
  • invasive
  • risk assessment
  • propagule pressure
  • disturbance
  • experiment
  • introduction
  • community
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  • S Luke Flory 1
  • Kimberly A Lorentz 2
  • Doria R Gordon 3
  • Lynn E Sollenberger 1
  • 1) Agronomy Department, University of Florida, PO Box 110500, Gainesville, FL 32611, USA
  • 2) Forest Resources and Conservation, University of Florida, Gainesville, FL 32611, USA
  • 3) The Nature Conservancy, Department of Biology, University of Florida, Gainesville, FL 32611, USA

There is growing concern that non-native plants cultivated for bioenergy production might escape and result in harmful invasions in natural areas. Literature-derived assessment tools used to evaluate invasion risk are beneficial for screening, but cannot be used to assess novel cultivars or genotypes. Experimental approaches are needed to help quantify invasion risk but protocols for such tools are lacking. We review current methods for evaluating invasion risk and make recommendations for incremental tests from small-scale experiments to widespread, controlled introductions. First, local experiments should be performed to identify conditions that are favorable for germination, survival, and growth of candidate biofuel crops. Subsequently, experimental introductions in semi-natural areas can be used to assess factors important for establishment and performance such as disturbance, founder population size, and timing of introduction across variable habitats. Finally, to fully characterize invasion risk, experimental introductions should be conducted across the expected geographic range of cultivation over multiple years. Any field-based testing should be accompanied by safeguards and monitoring for early detection of spread. Despite the costs of conducting experimental tests of invasion risk, empirical screening will greatly improve our ability to determine if the benefits of a proposed biofuel species outweigh the projected risks of invasions.

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  • 1 - sciences appliquees, technologies et medecines
  • 2 - sciences biologiques et medicales
  • 3 - sciences biologiques fondamentales et appliquees. psychologie
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Environmental Research Letters

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