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Is bioenergy expansion harmful to wildlife?

Date:
April 3, 2012
Source:
Wiley-Blackwell
Summary:
Despite the predicted environmental benefits of biofuels, converting land to grow bioenergy crops may harm native wildlife. Researchers have developed a way to study the effects of increased energy crop cultivation on farmland bird populations.

Despite the predicted environmental benefits of biofuels, converting land to grow bioenergy crops may harm native wildlife. Researchers at the Helmholtz Centre for Environmental Research in Leipzig have developed a way to study the effects of increased energy crop cultivation on farmland bird populations.

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"The Skylark is an indicator species for agricultural areas because it occupies many habitats of the wider countryside around the globe, breeds on the ground within fields and feeds mostly on insects" notes lead researcher, Jan Engel. "Improving the habitat suitability for Skylark, accordingly, would improve conservation of natural vegetation, insects, and other ground breeding farmland bird species."

Mr. Engel and his colleagues developed a computer model that evaluated the habitat requirements of Skylark in a variety of bioenergy cultivation scenarios. The study, published in Global Change Biology Bioenergy, found that bioenergy crop expansion will not harm Skylark populations if field sizes are low, many crop types are present, and small natural areas, known as Integrated Biodiversity Areas, are included within the landscape.

"In ecology it is a widely accepted idea that abundance and occurrence of particular species can broadly indicate the condition of the respective ecosystem" says Engel. The recent Skylark population decline illustrates the endangerment of farmland ecosystems. "However, we could show that bioenergy cultivation can get harmonized with Skylark conservation by application of regionally adapted actions."


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The above story is based on materials provided by Wiley-Blackwell. Note: Materials may be edited for content and length.


Journal Reference:

  1. Jan Engel, Andreas Huth, Karin Frank. Bioenergy production and Skylark (Alauda arvensis) population abundance – a modelling approach for the analysis of land-use change impacts and conservation options. Global Change Biology Bioenergy, 2 APR 2012 DOI: 10.1111/j.1757-1707.2012.01170.x

Cite This Page:

Wiley-Blackwell. "Is bioenergy expansion harmful to wildlife?." ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 3 April 2012. <www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2012/04/120403111847.htm>.
Wiley-Blackwell. (2012, April 3). Is bioenergy expansion harmful to wildlife?. ScienceDaily. Retrieved March 31, 2015 from www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2012/04/120403111847.htm
Wiley-Blackwell. "Is bioenergy expansion harmful to wildlife?." ScienceDaily. www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2012/04/120403111847.htm (accessed March 31, 2015).

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