Owen McKenna

I am a Mendenhall Postdoctoral Fellow working on pothole wetland biogeochemistry at Northern Prairie Wildlife Research Center in Jamestown, ND. Specifically my project focuses on the development of an integrated hydro-geochemical model for prairie pothole wetlands. I am also exploring a climate-induced ecohydrological state shift in wetland ecosystems through analysis of long-term data.



Ph.D., Environmental Life Sciences, Arizona State University, School of Life Sciences, Tempe, AZ (2016)

Dissertation Title: “Desert Playa Wetlands: Ecological Controls of their Functioning and Responses to Climate Change”

M.S., Environmental Life Sciences, Arizona State University, School of Life Sciences, Tempe, AZ (2014)

B.S., Biology w/ Ecology emphasis and minor in Environmental Action and Leadership, Loyola University Chicago, Chicago, IL (2011)


Research Ecologist, Mendenhall Postdoctoral Fellow, USGS Northern Prairie Wildlife Research Center, since 2016


A Systems Approach to Modeling Effects of Climate and Land Use Change on Prairie Wetland Ecosystems


  • Development of the Pothole Hydrology-Linked Systems Simulator (PHyLiSS) model 

Climate-Driven Shifts in Prairie Pothole Wetlands: Assessing Future Impacts to Critical Waterfowl Habitats


  • This project aims to improve our understanding of how future climate changes might impact wetland ecosystems and waterfowl habitats of the PPR. We are using a newly developed wetland simulation model to simulate hydrologic and chemical conditions of prairie pothole wetlands under various climate change scenarios.

Modeling Edge-of-Field and Downstream Effects of Within-field, Depressional Wetlands

  • We have been working with the U.S. Department of Agriculture Natural Resources Conservation Services to incorporate depressional wetlands into the Agriculture Policy Extender model (APEX) through use of the model’s reservoir functionality