Quantifying the effects of land-use change and bioenergy crop production on ecosystem services in the Northern Great Plains

Science Center Objects

Rising commodity crop prices, increased federal subsidies for biofuels, such as corn-based ethanol and soy-based biodiesel, and reduction in U.S. Farm Bill conservation programs have facilitated rapid land-use changes in the Northern Great Plains (NGP).  Although renewable biofuels are touted as a mechanism for increasing energy security and potentially reducing greenhouse gas emissions, little is known about how rapid expansion of biofuel crops will impact ecosystem services.  This research seeks to understand how land-use changes and biofuel crop development affect ecosystem services in the NGP. For example, the NPWRC biofuels research team studies how land-use change and habitat alteration affects pollinator health and the ability of bees to pollinate agricultural crops. This research improves societal understanding of the downstream effects of land-use change and the ecological and economic tradeoffs associated with bioenergy crop production.  NPWRC biofuels research has been featured in over 15 national and international media outlets since 2014.