Invasive Species Compendium

Detailed coverage of invasive species threatening livelihoods and the environment worldwide

CABI Book Chapter

Bioenergy and biological invasions: ecological, agronomic and policy perspectives on minimizing risk.

Book cover for Bioenergy and biological invasions: ecological, agronomic and policy perspectives on minimizing risk.


This book contains 9 chapters focusing on the ecological, agronomic and policy perspectives on minimizing risk of bioenergy and biological invasions. Topics covered include potential risks of algae bioenergy feedstocks, gene flow and invasiveness in bioenergy systems, use of weed risk assessments to separate the crops from the weeds and eradication and control of bioenergy feedstocks, among others...

Chapter 5 (Page no: 67)

Using weed risk assessments to separate the crops from the weeds.

The characters of the ideal bioenergy crop are shared by many of our worst invasive plants, and we are in need of methods to identify their invasive potential prior to large-scale introduction. Unfortunately, predicting which species will be invasive and in what location is often viewed as a near impossible task to most ecologists. Despite the underlying complexity of invasions, and the predictability challenge, weed risk assessments (WRA) have emerged as promising biosecurity tools designed to prevent the introduction of new invaders. WRAs are simple questionnaires on the species traits, introduction history, impact, and management that yield high or low risk scores, generally employed prior to the introduction of new species. WRAs have been used widely across the globe and boast >90% accuracy in predicting invasive species. We examined Australian and US WRA tools, and compared the WRA outcomes of several bioenergy crops against invasive species introduced for agronomic purposes and several traditional row crops. Candidate bioenergy crops were found to vary tremendously in their WRA scores, while current invaders all received high risk scores. Interestingly, several row crops received high risk scores, which we attribute to feral populations or weedy variants. We also examined how the WRAs would respond to infraspecific variation for several crops. Overall, the WRAs were not capable of distinguishing cultivar-level information, nor did they do well for species with little available information. Thus, the outcomes of WRAs should be viewed carefully and within the context of how much we know about that taxon. WRAs are useful biosecurity tools, but we do not recommend they be used exclusively; rather they should be a component of an integrated system that includes field studies to best understand the invasion risk posed by bioenergy crops.

Other chapters from this book

Chapter: 1 (Page no: 1) The bioenergy landscape: sustainable resources or the next great invasion? Author(s): Quinn, L. D., Barney, J. N., Matlaga, D. P.
Chapter: 2 (Page no: 12) What would invasive feedstock populations look like? Perspectives from existing invasions. Author(s): Quinn, L. D.
Chapter: 3 (Page no: 35) Potential risks of algae bioenergy feedstocks. Author(s): Phang SiewMoi, Chu WanLoy
Chapter: 4 (Page no: 52) Gene flow and invasiveness in bioenergy systems. Author(s): Ridley, C. E., Mallory-Smith, C.
Chapter: 6 (Page no: 85) Bioenergy and novel plants: the regulatory structure. Author(s): Endres, A. B.
Chapter: 7 (Page no: 97) "Seeded-yet-sterile" perennial grasses: towards sustainable and non-invasive biofuel feedstocks. Author(s): Jessup, R. W., Dowling, C. D.
Chapter: 8 (Page no: 113) Eradication and control of bioenergy feedstocks: what do we really know? Author(s): Enloe, S. F., Loewenstein, N. J.
Chapter: 9 (Page no: 134) Good intentions vs good ideas: evaluating bioenergy projects that utilize invasive plant feedstocks. Author(s): Nackley, L. L.