EBI Personnel Directory Bernacchi, Carl
The research team is quantifying the major pools and fluxes in the biogeochemical cycles of carbon, nitrogen, and water in large plots of M. x giganteus, switchgrass, restored prairie, and corn. Researchers are also determining the regulation of these fluxes by the insect and soil microbial communities. Ultimately, the group will develop a mechanistic understanding of how different feedstock crops affect major ecosystem processes, such as the capacity to sequester atmospheric carbon, retain soil nitrogen, minimize water contamination, and produce greenhouse gases including methane and nitrous oxide.
This project identified the environmental impacts, particularly with regard to the hydrologic cycle, of altering the landscape in the Midwestern U.S. to accommodate biofuel feedstock species, primarily switchgrass and Miscanthus. The team modified an ecosystem model (Agro-IBIS) to represent the biogeochemical processes associated with biofuel crops sugarcane, switchgrass and Miscanthus giganteus. Predicting these impacts was accomplished through the development of numerical models that are mechanistic and allow the vegetation to respond to multiple environmental factors such as climate variability.