Land and Climate Change and Prairie Pothole EcosystemsThe purpose of this project is to investigate the effects of climate and land cover change on wetland and grassland ecosystems of the Prairie Pothole Region. At the core of this project is an effort to develop an adaptive modeling framework that can be used to observe, monitor, understand, and predict the effects of climate and land-cover change on natural resources and ecosystem processes at multiple spatial and temporal scales. Separating changes attributable to natural climate variability and anthropogenic influences is a major component of this effort. Development of a process based understanding of wetland ecosystems provided by long-term climate, hydrologic, chemical, and biotic data obtained from the Cottonwood Lake Study Area in south-central North Dakota is a critical component of this effort. This project also evaluates other climate and land-cover change effects within the Prairie Pothole Region including 1) risks associated with energy development within the Williston Basin of North Dakota, 2) alteration to wetland hydrology and water quality of National Wildlife Refuges wetlands induced by climate and land-use change, 3) impacts of agricultural tile drainage on wetland hydrology and aquatic resources, and 4) an examination of greenhouse gas fluxes, associated abiotic factors, and carbon cycling of wetlands and catchments.
Why is this research important?
The Prairie Pothole Region is the most important region in North America for migrating waterfowl. It is also one of the World’s most important areas for the production of agricultural crops. This project will increase our understanding of the interactions between climate, physical, chemical and biological forces that influence the structure and functioning of the region’s diverse ecosystems and the services they perform. Outcomes from this project are being used by Interior and other land managers to improve management of ecosystems and by the U.S. Department of Agriculture to focus limited conservation dollars to maintain the delivery of goods and services provided by the region’s ecosystems under alternate climate and land-use futures. This project, through its linkages with other ecosystem modeling projects, will result in the development of models that will allow for the forecasting of the effects of climate and land-cover change on multiple services provided by prairie ecosystems. Long-term data collected as part of this project has been invaluable in furthering our understanding of the effects of droughts and floods on functioning of prairie wetland ecosystems. Future work will further our understanding of dynamic processes and allow for development of potential mitigation strategies.
Principal Investigator: Robert Gleason
Project Team: Charles Dahl, Ned Euliss, Ray Finocchiaro, David Mushet, Jordan Neau, Wesley Newton, Eric Scherff, Matt Solensky, Brian Tangen