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Effects of projected climate (2011–50) on karst hydrology and species vulnerability—Edwards aquifer, south-central Texas, and Madison aquifer, western South Dakota

December 22, 2014

Karst aquifers—formed by the dissolution of soluble rocks such as limestone—are critical groundwater resources in North America, and karst springs, caves, and streams provide habitat for unique flora and fauna. Springflow and groundwater levels in karst terrane can change greatly over short time scales, and therefore are likely to respond rapidly to climate change. How might the biological communities and ecosystems associated with karst respond to climate change and accompanying changes in groundwater levels and springflow?

Sites in two central U.S. regions—the Balcones Escarpment of south-central Texas and the Black Hills of western South Dakota (fig. 1)—were selected to study climate change and its potential effects on the local karst hydrology and ecosystem. The ecosystems associated with the Edwards aquifer (Balcones Escarpment region) and Madison aquifer (Black Hills region) support federally listed endangered and threatened species and numerous State-listed species of concern, including amphibians, birds, insects, and plants. Full results are provided in Stamm and others (2014), and are summarized in this fact sheet.