Invasive Species Biology, Ecology, Management and Risk Assessment: Evaluating and Mitigating the Invasion Risk of Biofuel Crops

  • Jacob N. BarneyEmail author
  • Joseph M. DiTomaso
Part of the Biotechnology in Agriculture and Forestry book series (AGRICULTURE, volume 66)


Biofuel crops are being selected to require minimal inputs, tolerate marginal growing conditions, and exhibit rapid growth rates—agronomically desirable traits that also characterize many of our worst invasive species. Many of the candidate biofuel crops are known invasive or noxious species in portions of their non-native range. Most invasive species were intentionally introduced and cause tremendous environmental and economic harm globally. Necessary elements for the sustainable production of bioenergy include assessment and subsequent mitigation of the invasive potential of biofuel crops prior to large-scale adoption, as the economic benefits of bio-based energy may be offset by environmental damage and management costs. We outline a proposed invasiveness risk evaluation to be conducted on each crop, and subsequent mitigating practices along each step of the biofuel pathway.


Invasive Species Propagule Pressure Giant Reed Biofuel Crop Weed Risk Assessment 
These keywords were added by machine and not by the authors. This process is experimental and the keywords may be updated as the learning algorithm improves.


  1. Bailey LH (1916) Standard cyclopedia of horticulture. MacMillan, New YorkGoogle Scholar
  2. Baker HG (1965) Characteristics and modes of origin of weeds. In: Baker HG, Stebbins GL (eds) The genetics of colonizing species. Academic, New York, pp 147–168Google Scholar
  3. Baker HG (1974) The evolution of weeds. Annu Rev Ecol Syst 5:1–24CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  4. Barney JN, DiTomaso JM (2008) Nonnative species and bioenergy: are we cultivating the next invader? BioScience 58:64–70CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  5. Barney JN, DiTomaso JM (2010) Bioclimatic predictions of habitat suitability for the biofuel switchgrass in North America under current and future climate scenarios. Biomass Bioenergy 34:124–133CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  6. Barney JN, Whitlow TH (2008) A unifying framework for biological invasions: the state factor model. Biol Invasions 10:259–272CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  7. Barney JN, Mann JJ, Kyser GB, Blumwald E, Van Deynze A, DiTomaso JM (2009) Tolerance of switchgrass to extreme soil moisture stress: ecological implications. Plant Sci 177:724–732CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  8. Beaumont LJ, Gallagher RV, Thuiller W, Downey PO, Leishman MR, Hughes L (2009) Different climatic envelopes among invasive populations may lead to underestimations of current and future biological invasions. Divers Distrib 15:409–420CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  9. Boe A (2007) Variation between two switchgrass cultivars for components of vegetative and seed biomass. Crop Sci 47:636–642CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  10. Bradford KJ, Van Deynze AE, Gutterson N, Parrott W, Strauss SH (2005) Regulating transgenic crops sensibly: lessons from plant breeding, biotechnology and genomics. Nature 23:439–444CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  11. Brooks ML, D’Antonio CM, Richardson DM, Grace JB, Keeley JE, DiTomaso JM, Hobbs RJ, Pellant M, Pyke D (2004) Effects of invasive alien plants on fire regimes. BioScience 54:677–688CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  12. Buddenhagen CE, Chimera C, Clifford P (2009) Assessing biofuel crop invasiveness: a case study. PLoS ONE 4(4): e5261, doi:10.1371/ journal.pone.0005261PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  13. Chapotin SM, Wolt JD (2007) Genetically modified crops for the bioeconomy: meeting public and regulatory expectations. Transgenic Res 16:675–688PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  14. Cousens R (2008) Risk assessment of potential biofuel species: an application for trait-based models for predicting weediness? Weed Sci 56:873–882CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  15. D’Antonio CM, Hobbie SE (2005) Plant species effects on ecosystem processes. In: Sax DF, Stachowicz JJ, Gaines SD (eds) Species invasions: insights from ecology, evolution and biogeography. Sinauer, Sunderland, MA, pp 65–84Google Scholar
  16. Davis MA, Grime JP, Thompson K (2000) Fluctuating resources in plant communities: a general theory of invasibility. J Ecol 88:528–534CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  17. DiTomaso JM (2000) Invasive weeds in rangelands: species, impacts, and management. Weed Sci 48:255–265CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  18. DiTomaso JM, Healy EA (2007) Weeds of California and other Western states. University of California, Agricultural and Natural Resources, Oakland, CAGoogle Scholar
  19. DiTomaso JM, Barney JN, Fox A (2007) Biofuel feedstocks: the risk of future invasions. Council for Agricultural Science and Technology Commentary QTA 2007–1Google Scholar
  20. Energy Independence and Security Act (2007) Public Law 110–140. H.R. 6Google Scholar
  21. FAO (2007) Global crop area harvested—all crops. Cited Aug 31 2009
  22. Field CB, Campbell JE, Lobell DB (2008) Biomass energy: the scale of the potential resource. Trends Ecol Evolut 23:65–72CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  23. Forseth IN Jr, Innis AF (2004) Kudzu (Pueraria montana): history, physiology, and ecology combine to make a major ecosystem threat. Crit Rev Plant Sci 23:401–413CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  24. Franklin J (1995) Predictive vegetation mapping: geographic modeling of biospatial patterns in relation to environmental gradients. Prog Phys Geogr 19:474–499CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  25. Gordon DR, Onderdonk DA, Fox AM, Stocker RK (2008) Consistent accuracy of the Australian weed risk assessment system across varied geographies. Divers Distrib 14:234–242CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  26. Gressel J (2008) Transgenics are imperative for biofuel crops. Plant Sci 174:246–263CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  27. Gurevitch J, Padilla DK (2004) Are invasive species a major cause of extinctions? Trends Ecol Evolut 19:470–474CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  28. Hayes KR, Barry SC (2008) Are there any consistent predictors of invasion success? Biol Invasions 10:483–506CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  29. Holt JS, Boose AB (2000) Potential for spread of Abutilon theophrasti in California. Weed Sci 48:43–52CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  30. Kassel PC, Mullen RE, Bailey TB (1985) Seed yield of three switchgrass cultivars for different management practices. Agron J 77:214–218CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  31. Keller RP, Lodge DM, Finnoff DC (2007) Risk assessment for invasive species produces net bioeconomic benefits. Proc Natl Acad Sci USA 104:203–207PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  32. Khudamrongsawat J, Tayyar R, Holt JS (2004) Genetic diversity of giant reed (Arundo donax) in the Santa Ana River, California. Weed Sci 52:395–405CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  33. Kowarik I (1995) Time lags in biological invasions with regard to the success and failure of alien species. In: Pyšek P, Prach K, Rejmánek M, Wade M (eds) Plant invasions—general aspects and special problems. Academic, Amsterdam, pp 15–38Google Scholar
  34. Kriticos D, Yonow T, McFadyen RE (2005) The potential distribution of Chromolaena odorata (Siam weed) in relation to climate. Weed Res 45:246–254CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  35. Levine JM (2000) Species diversity and biological invasions: relating local process to community pattern. Science 288:852–854PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  36. Levine JM, Adler PB, Yelenik SG (2004) A meta-analysis of biotic resistance to exotic plant invasions. Ecol Lett 7:975–989CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  37. Lewandowski I, Scurlock JMO, Lindvall E, Chistou M (2003) The development and current status of perennial rhizomatous grasses as energy crops in the US and Europe. Biomass Bioenergy 25:335–361CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  38. Lockwood JL, Cassey P, Blackburn TM (2009) The more you introduce the more you get: the role of colonization pressure and propagule pressure in invasion ecology. Divers Distrib 15:904–910CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  39. Low T, Booth C (2007) The weedy truth about biofuels. Invasive Species Council, MelbourneGoogle Scholar
  40. Mack RN (2000) Cultivation fosters plant naturalization by reducing environmental stochasticity. Biol Invasions 2:111–122CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  41. Mack RN (2008) Evaluating the credits and debits of a proposed biofuel species: giant reed (Arundo donax). Weed Sci 56:883–888CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  42. Mack RN, Simberloff D, Lonsdale WM, Evans H, Clout M, Bazzaz FA (2000) Biotic invasions: causes, epidemiology, global consequences, and control. Ecol Appl 10:689–710CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  43. Mann JJ, Barney JN, Kyser GB, DiTomaso JM (2009) Pre-commercial screening of the leading biofuel crop Miscanthus x giganteus for invasive plant traits. Calif Weed Sci Soc 61:59Google Scholar
  44. Meyerson LA (2008) Biosecurity, biofuels, and biodiversity. Front Ecol Environ 6:291CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  45. Parrish DJ, Fike JH (2005) The biology and agronomy of switchgrass for biofuels. Crit Rev Plant Sci 24:423–459CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  46. Pattison RR, Mack RN (2008) Potential distribution of the invasive tree Triadica sebifera (Euphorbiaceae) in the United States: evaluating CLIMEX predictions with field trials. Glob Change Biol 14:813–826CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  47. Pearson RG, Dawson TP (2003) Predicting the impacts of climate change on the distribution of species: are bioclimatic envelop models useful? Glob Ecol Biogeogr 12:361–371CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  48. Pheloung PC, Williams PA, Halloy SR (1999) A weed risk assessment model for use as a biosecurity tool evaluating plant introductions. J Environ Manage 57:239–251CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  49. Pimentel D, Lach L, Zuniga R, Morrison D (2000) Environmental and economic costs of nonindigenous species in the United States. BioScience 50:53–65CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  50. Poutsma J, Loomans AJM, Aukema B, Heijerman T (2008) Predicting the potential geographical distribution of the harlequin ladybird, Harmonia axyridis, using the CLIMEX model. BioControl 53:103–125CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  51. Pyšek P, Richardson DM (2007) Traits associated with invasiveness in alien plants: where do we stand? In: Nentwig W (ed) Biological invasions. Springer, Berlin, pp 97–125Google Scholar
  52. Raghu S, Anderson RC, Daehler CC, Davis AS, Wiedenmann RN, Simberloff D, Mack RN (2006) Adding biofuels to the invasive species fire? Science 313:1742PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  53. Reichard SH, Hamilton CW (1997) Predicting invasions of woody plants introduced into North America. Conserv Biol 11:193–203CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  54. Reichard SH, White P (2001) Horticulture as a pathway of invasive plant introductions in the United States. BioScience 51:103–113CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  55. Rejmánek M, Pitcairn MJ (2002) When is eradication of exotic pest plants a realistic goal? In: Veitch CR, Clout MN (eds) Turning the tide: the eradication of invasive species. IUCN SSC Invasive Species Specialist Group, Cambridge, pp 249–253Google Scholar
  56. Richardson DM, Pyšek P, Rejmanek M, Barbour MG, Panetta FD, West CJ (2000) Naturalization and invasion of alien plants: concepts and definitions. Diver Distrib 6:93–107CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  57. Robertson GP, Dale VH, Doering OC, Hamburg SP, Melillo JM, Wander MM, Parton WJ, Adler PR, Barney JN, Cruse RM, Duke CS, Fearnside PM, Follett RF, Gibbs HK, Goldemberg J, Mladenoff DJ, Ojima D, Palmer MW, Sharpley A, Wallace L, Weathers KC, Wiens JA, Wilhelm WW (2008) Sustainable biofuels redux. Science 322:49–50PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  58. Royal Society (2008) Sustainable biofuels: prospects and challenges. Royal Society, London, p 90Google Scholar
  59. Sala A, Smith SD, Devitt DA (1996) Water use by Tamarix ramosissima and associated phreatophytes in a Mojave desert floodplain. Ecol Appl 63:888–898CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  60. Sanderson MA, Schnabel RR, Curran WS, Stout WL, Genito D, Tracy BF (2004) Switchgrass and big bluestem hay, biomass, and seed yield response to fire and glyphosate treatment. Agron J 96:1688–1692CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  61. Savidge JA (1987) Extinction of an island forest avifauna by an introduced snake. Ecology 68:660–668CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  62. Sax DF, Stachowicz JJ, Gaines SD (eds) (2005) Species invasions: insights into ecology, evolution, and biogeography. Sinauer, Sunderland, MAGoogle Scholar
  63. Schnoor JL, Doering OC, Entekhabi D, Hiler EA, Hullar TL, Tilman D (2008) Water implications of biofuels production in the United States. National Academies Press, Washington, DCGoogle Scholar
  64. Simberloff D (2005) The politics of assessing risk for biological invasions: the USA as a case study. Trends Ecol Evolut 20:216–222CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  65. Simberloff D (2008) Invasion biologists and the biofuels boom: Cassandras or colleagues? Weed Sci 56:867–872CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  66. Sinden J, Jones R, Hester S, Odom D, Kalisch C, James R, Cacho O (2004) The economic impact of weeds in Australia, CRC for Australian Weed Management Technical Series, p 55Google Scholar
  67. Stachowicz JJ, Tilman D (2005) Species invasions and the relationships between species diversity, community saturation, and ecosystem functioning. In: Sax DF, Stachowicz JJ, Gaines SD (eds) Species invasions: insights into ecology, evolution, and biogeography. Sinauer, Sunderland, MA, pp 41–64Google Scholar
  68. Sutherland S (2004) What makes a weed a weed: life history traits of native and exotic plants in the USA. Oecologia 141:24–39PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  69. Sutherst RW (2003) Prediction of species geographical ranges. J Biogeogr 30:805–816CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  70. Sutherst RW, Maywald GF, Yonow T, Stevens PM (1999). CLIMEX: predicting the effects of climate on plants and animals. CSIRO, VictoriaGoogle Scholar
  71. Sutherst RW, Maywald GF, Russell BL (2000) Estimating vulnerability under global change: modular modelling of pests. Agric Ecosyst Environ 82:303–319CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  72. Sutherst RW, Maywald GF, Bourne AS (2007) Including species interactions in risk assessments for global change. Glob Change Biol 13:1843–1859CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  73. Theoharides KA, Dukes JS (2007) Plant invasion across space and time: factors affecting nonindigenous species success during four stages of invasion. New Phytol 176:256–273PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  74. Vitousek PM, Walker LR, Whiteaker LD, Mueller-Dombois D, Matson P (1987) Biological invasion by Myrica faya alters ecosystem development in Hawaii. Science 238:802–804PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  75. Weber J, Panetta FD, Virtue JG, Pheloung PC (2009) An analysis of assessment outcomes from eight years’ operation of the Australian border weed risk assessment system. J Environ Manage 90:798–807PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  76. Yuan JS, Tiller KH, Al-Ahmad H, Stewart NR, Stewart CN Jr (2008) Plants to power: bioenergy to fuel the future. Trends Plant Sci 13:421–429PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  77. Zamora DL, Thill DC, Eplee RE (1989) An eradication plan for plant invasions. Weed Technol 3:2–12Google Scholar

Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag Berlin Heidelberg 2010

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Department of Plant SciencesUniversity of CaliforniaDavisUSA

Personalised recommendations