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The impact of future climate on wetland habitat in a critical migratory waterfowl corridor of the Prairie Pothole Region

January 12, 2022

Depressional wetlands are extremely sensitive to changes in temperature and precipitation, so understanding how wetland inundation dynamics respond to changes in climate is essential for describing potential effects on wildlife breeding habitat. Millions of depressional basins make up the largest wetland complex in North America known as the Prairie Pothole Region (PPR). The wetland ecosystems that have formed in these basins provide important migratory-bird breeding habitat. The southeast portion of the U.S. PPR in Minnesota and Iowa has faced some of the greatest challenges in wetland conservation. Many existing prairie-pothole wetlands are small (<1 ha) and shallow (<2 m) and are typically not inundated with surface water year-round. Our goal with this project is to increase the efficacy of mapping tools used by management agencies to predict future changes in water levels in the PPR. We accomplish this goal by improving the link between existing data (about wetland water characteristics) and existing tools (mapping products). Our results successfully validated (2009-2021) the current mapping tool (a wetland hydrology model) used by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (USFWS) to manage 22 wetlands in Minnesota. We were able to hindcast wetland water levels to 1984 and assess the accuracy of a satellite-derived surface water product and forecast water levels through 2099 using a suite of modeled climate data. This newly refined link between monitoring data and remote sensing tools will increase understanding and prediction for other wetlands beyond our study sites and through the Minnesota and Iowa portions of the PPR. Through conference presentations, publications, and development of an interactive climate change dashboard we are now working with managers to determine how we can help incorporate these predicted changes to waterfowl breeding habitat into their future management, acquisition, and restoration strategy.

Publication Year 2022
Title The impact of future climate on wetland habitat in a critical migratory waterfowl corridor of the Prairie Pothole Region
Authors Owen P. McKenna
Publication Type Report
Publication Subtype Other Government Series
Series Title Final Report
Index ID 70229185
Record Source USGS Publications Warehouse
USGS Organization Northern Prairie Wildlife Research Center