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Potential Biodiversity Response to Intercropping Herbaceous Biomass Crops on Forest Lands

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Intensive forestry presents opportunities for intercropping herbaceous biomass species between crop tree rows for producing cellulosic feedstocks. Switchgrass (Panicum virgatum) and other native prairie grasses are being evaluated as potential biofuel crops. It is unclear how intercropping within intensively managed forests will affect biodiversity compared with similar forests under traditional timber management. However, research with grasses in row crop agriculture suggests some basic principles. Effects will likely vary with habitat needs of individual species and communities. Additionally, intercropping regimes favoring mixed native warm-season grasses over switchgrass only, spring harvests over fall, and rotational harvests producing mosaics of grass heights would likely benefit biodiversity. A critical knowledge gap is how potential edge effects of growing crop trees may influence habitat quality of intercropped stands. Although biomass intercropping may increase diversity by adding predominantly grass components to intensively managed forest landscapes, predictions about biodiversity response are not possible until more research is done.
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Keywords: biodiversity; biofuel; intercropping; native grasses; switchgrass

Document Type: Research Article

Publication date: 2012-01-01

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  • The Journal of Forestry is the most widely circulated scholarly forestry journal in the world. In print since 1902, the Journal has received several national awards for excellence. The mission of the Journal of Forestry is to advance the profession of forestry by keeping forest management professionals informed about significant developments and ideas in the many facets of forestry: economics, education and communication, entomology and pathology, fire, forest ecology, geospatial technologies, history, international forestry, measurements, policy, recreation, silviculture, social sciences, soils and hydrology, urban and community forestry, utilization and engineering, and wildlife management. The Journal is published bimonthly: January, March, May, July, September, and November.

    2016 Impact Factor: 1.675 (Rank 20/64 in forestry)

    Average time from submission to first decision: 39.6 days*
    June 1, 2016 to Feb. 28, 2017

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