This material is published in Global Change Biology Bioenergy (2013, 5: 257-266), the only definitive repository of the content that has been certified and accepted after peer review. doi: 10.1111/gcbb.12040

Evaluating ecosystem processes in willow short rotation coppice bioenergy plantations

Rebecca Rowe, Dave Goulson, C. Patrick Doncaster, Donna Clarke, Gail Taylor and Mick Hanley


Despite a growing body of research linking bioenergy cultivation to changing patterns of biodiversity, there has been remarkably little interest in how bioenergy plantations affect key ecosystem processes underpinning important ecosystem services. In this study, we compare how the processes of predation by ground arthropods and litter decomposition varied between Short Rotation Coppice (SRC) willow bioenergy plantations and alternative land-uses: arable and set-aside (agricultural land taken out of production). We deployed litter bags to measure variation in decomposition, and a prey removal assay coupled with pitfall traps and direct searches to investigate variation in predation pressure. Decomposition rate was higher in willow SRC and set-aside than in cereal crops. Willow SRC had the highest abundance and diversity of ground-dwelling arthropod predators, but land-use had no detectable influence on predation of fly pupae or the combined activity-density of the two principal Coleoptera families (carabids and staphylinids). Overall, our study demonstrates that the conversion of arable land to SRC may have implications for the rate of some, but not all, ecosystem processes, and highlights the need for further research in this area.

Access to the full article at Global Change Biology Bioenergy.

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