A Landscape Scale Perspective on Predicting Risks and Benefits of Potentially Invasive Biofuel Crops
There is rising interest in the cultivation of exotic or novel developed crops for non-food purposes, particularly the production of biofuel feedstocks. This transformation of the agricultural landscape could provide major benefits, but comes with risks of escape and spread of potentially invasive crops. Currently there are limited tools to evaluate these risks in a manner and at a scale that can aid the development of regulatory frameworks or inform specific decisions about species and locations for biofuel cultivation. Because of the large spatial scales involved and the potentially outsize impacts of uncommon events, predicting the spread of invasive species is a computationally intensive problem. These researchers have developed a modeling approach that can draw on empirical data about potentially invasive crops and remote sensing data about landscapes to predict potential risks of invasive spread. Using HPC resources at MSI they will be able to analyze landscape characteristics, including both habitat composition and spatial structure, that influence invasion risks. This information will then allow prediction of risks over large spatial scales and evaluation of different management strategies, which can be incorporated with other data on costs and benefits of biofuel production in different localities and scenarios for more effective risk analysis.
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