Assessment of pattern tile drainage on wetland hydrology and ecosystem services in the Prairie Pothole Region

Science Center Objects

Prairie Pothole Region wetlands provide numerous ecological services to society such as wildlife habitat, water storage, and carbon sequestration. Agricultural production in the region has been enhanced through the expanded installation and use of subsurface drainage systems, but these systems may have a negative impact on the region’s wetlands, including those protected by conservation easements. We developed spatial databases of drainage system locations to provide a picture of areas that are being targeted for drainage and to identify landscape characteristics that are driving this practice. We also conducted a novel field study to examine potential effects of subsurface drainage systems on wetland hydrology, and the effectiveness of drainage system buffers for protecting wetlands. This work directly supports decision making and conservation efforts aimed at protecting and enhancing vital wetland habitats in the Prairie Pothole Region.