Climate-driven state shifts in the Prairie Pothole Region: assessing future impacts relevant to the management of wetland habitats critical to waterfowl

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The Prairie Pothole Region (PPR) covers parts of five states and three Canadian provinces. The region contains millions of wetlands that annually produce 50-80% of the continent’s duck population. Previous modeling efforts indicated that climate change would result in a shift of waterfowl habitat from the central PPR to the southeast PPR where the majority of wetlands have been drained. However, more recent research has revealed that changes in climate are influencing wetland habitats in novel ways and previous modeling results may no longer be valid. Under previous modeling results, large investments in wetland restoration in the southeastern PPR would be required to maintain waterfowl populations. Results using newly available modeling tools have potential to validate these earlier results or identify different areas where management investments would result in the greatest returns. We are using a newly developed wetland simulation model to simulate hydrologic conditions of prairie-pothole wetlands under various climate-change scenarios. We will link the results of our simulations to the ability of prairie-pothole wetlands to meet the habitat needs of breeding waterfowl.