Northern Prairie Wildlife Research Center
A few studies have examined the influence of agricultural land-use on sedimentation of prairie wetlands (Adomaitis et al. 1967; Martin and Hartman 1987; Dieter 1991; Dryer et al. 1996), but impacts on water quality, primary productivity, and aquatic food webs are poorly understood (Gleason and Euliss 1996). Soil erosion is a primary concern of agricultural interests because erosion reduces the integrity, productivity, and sustainability of agricultural lands (Timmons 1980). Agricultural research and policy have been instrumental in developing and implementing agricultural conservation practices on private lands that reduce soil erosion, in order to maintain productivity and enhance soils and water quality. However, the success of conservation practices is normally evaluated from an agricultural perspective and generally does not include wildlife considerations (Miranowski and Bender 1982). Integration of goals from multiple interests and disciplines in conservation policies is in line with recent political emphasis on developing holistic agricultural programs (Gerard 1995). The amalgamation of pertinent interests and disciplines into research programs will ensure that appropriate information is available to policy makers.
Here we present an overview of research on the influence of agricultural land-use practices on sedimentation rates in prairie wetlands, and discuss potential effects of sedimentation on wetland ecology. We also discuss management strategies that reduce sediment inputs into prairie wetlands and the need to integrate research by wildlife and agricultural interests to develop holistic management strategies.