Environmental Tolerances of Miscanthus sinensis in Invasive and Native Populations
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Miscanthus sinensis is a moderately invasive ornamental grass species being considered as a bioenergy species in the USA and elsewhere. In this study, we show the range of environmental conditions tolerated by this species in wild populations in the USA and in Japan. Six naturalized populations in the USA and five native populations in Japan were sampled in summer 2009. In each population, environmental factors (canopy cover and soil fertility) were measured, along with measurements of size and morphology for 30 plants. Relationships between M. sinensis size and environmental variables in the two countries were determined using linear mixed effects models. Results indicated that M. sinensis can tolerate extremely wide variation in soil and climate conditions in the populations we sampled across both ranges, suggesting that it could be successfully grown across a wide distribution in the USA, both intentionally as a bioenergy crop and unintentionally as an escaped invader. Plant size generally responded to different environmental conditions in both ranges, with USA plants being negatively influenced by canopy cover and Japanese plants being positively influenced by soil fertility measures. We recommend caution in growing M. sinensis for bioenergy or ornamental purposes to minimize escape outside of its native range.
KeywordsBiofuel Introduced range Invasion ecology Invasive range Japan Native range
We would like to thank Jim Moody and Tyler Slack for the technical assistance; Virginia White for the field assistance; and Jonathan Horton, Parker Andes, Marilyn Ortt, David Taylor, Andrew Strassman, and Thom Almendinger for the help with the USA site selection. We thank Kenta Tanaka and Ryo Suzuki of the Sugadaira Montane Research Center for the accommodations and research support. We also acknowledge Kyushu Biomass Forum staff, Hokkaido University, the National Institute of Livestock and Grassland Science (Nasu Research Center), and the Field Science Center of Tohoku University for the research support. We also thank three anonymous reviewers for improvements to this manuscript. Finally, we acknowledge funding from the Energy Biosciences Institute.
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