Aims In recent years, Miscanthus sinensis and M. floridulus have attracted considerable attention as two of the most promising non-food energy crops in China. We attempt to determine the potential distributions of the two Miscanthus species to provide a reference for developing non-food energy crops using marginal lands in China.
Methods We predicted the potential distribution and fundamental niches of M. sinensis and M. floridulus in China based on the maximum entropy (MAXENT) model using distribution data of the two species combined with 19 climatic factors.
Important findings The potential distribution area for M. sinensis covers west Sichuan, north Shaanxi, Ningxia, central Inner Mongolia, Heilongjiang, west Jilin, west Liaoning, southeast Qinghai, etc. Its fundamental niche parameters are: precipitation of warmest quarter of 400–1 000 mm, average precipitation in August of 100–350 mm, average minimum air temperature in July of 15 °C, average precipitation in July of 100–350 mm, average maximum air temperature in November of –10 to 22 °C, mean temperature of driest quarter of –15 to 20 °C and average precipitation in December <100 mm. The potential distribution area for M. floridulus includes Yunnan, Shaanxi, Shanxi, Ningxia, Henan, Shandong, Jilin, Liaoning, west Sichuan, south Gansu and east Inner Mongolia, etc. Its fundamental niche parameters are: precipitation of warmest quarter > 400 mm, mean precipitation in June of 150–550 mm, average minimum air temperature of 15–30 °C in July and 10 °C in June and average precipitation in April of 50–100 mm. The results show that there are abundant land resources for growing M. sinensis and M. floridulus in China.