US Geological Survey


Date of this Version



GCB Bioenergy (2012) 4, 96–106; doi: 10.1111/j.1757-1707.2011.01113.x


This study dynamically monitors ecosystem performance (EP) to identify grasslands potentially suitable for cellulosic feedstock crops (e.g., switchgrass) within the Greater Platte River Basin (GPRB). We computed grassland site potential and EP anomalies using 9-year (2000–2008) time series of 250 m expedited moderate resolution imaging spectro-radiometer Normalized Difference Vegetation Index data, geophysical and biophysical data, weather and climate data, and EP models. We hypothesize that areas with fairly consistent high grassland productivity (i.e., high grassland site potential) in fair to good range condition (i.e., persistent ecosystem over performance or normal performance, indicating a lack of severe ecological disturbance) are potentially suitable for cellulosic feedstock crop development. Unproductive (i.e., low grassland site potential) or degraded grasslands (i.e., persistent ecosystem underperformance with poor range condition) are not appropriate for cellulosic feedstock development. Grassland pixels with high or moderate ecosystem site potential and with more than 7 years ecosystem normal performance or over performance during 2000–2008 are identified as possible regions for future cellulosic feedstock crop development (ca. 68 000 km2 within the GPRB, mostly in the eastern areas). Long-term climate conditions, elevation, soil organic carbon, and yearly seasonal precipitation and temperature are important performance variables to determine the suitable areas in this study. The final map delineating the suitable areas within the GPRB provides a new monitoring and modeling approach that can contribute to decision support tools to help land managers and decision makers make optimal land use decisions regarding cellulosic feedstock crop development and sustainability.