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Research Area 6 - Attaining Ecological balance in sustainable bamboo production

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Bamboo is associated strongly with China because it has been broadly used in China since prehistoric times. Although it grows in many parts of the world, bamboo is deeply entwined with Chinese culture (Zhou 1998). In some places of China, some varieties (e.g. giant bamboo) can grow > 1 m each day. The rapid growth rate of bamboo allows for its widespread sustainable use. Bamboo has a higher tensile strength and is a popular building material. It is also used for producing furniture, charcoal, fiber, and clothes. Bamboo forest management has a long tradition and is important in the local economy in China, such as restoring fragile ecosystems, providing benefits to local communities, alleviating rural poverty, and easing timber shortages (Chen et al. 2009). Due to the special biological characteristics of bamboo, it can be continually re-harvested with little damage to the surrounding environment. Once a new shoot emerges from the ground, the new cane will reach its full height in just 8–10 weeks. Each cane reaches maturity in 3–5 years. Regular harvesting is actually of benefit to the health of the plant. Some studies have shown that felling of canes leads to vigorous re-growth and an increase in the amount of biomass the next year (Zhou 1998). Yields of bamboo of up to 60 tons per hectare greatly exceed the yield of most trees (around 20 tons) and cotton (1-2 tons). After one-time planting of bamboo and little care and maintenance are needed for several years. There has been great interest in US and the world about bamboo research because its high rate of biomass production in recent years (World Bamboo Organization 2009). In a time when land use is under enormous pressure, bamboo’s high yield per hectare becomes is a desirable aspect. Thus, it is interesting to study the ecology of bamboo forest to ensure adequate future production. 

The objectives of this study include (i) analyzing spatial and temporal production distribution in bamboo forests at different locations around Nanjing area; (ii) identifying the relationships between bamboo production and in situ environment; and (iii) determining and ameliorating possible problems associated with sustained bamboo forest productivity both in US and China. REU students will participate data collection through site surveys (soil depth, nutrient content, moisture retention attributes such as organic matter content), and other information from literature and previous records. Spatial statistical techniques will be applied to understand the shoot distribution in bamboo forest (Chen et al. 2005). This study will identify (i) patterns of spatial and temporal distribution of production in bamboo forests; (ii) possible driving forces related to changes in production; and (iii) analyzing the possible technologies for sustainable production in US and China.​