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Northern Prairie Wildlife Research Center

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Sedimentation of Prairie Wetlands

Effects of Sedimentation on Wetland Function and Values

While natural processes may fill wetlands with sediment, anthropogenic influences have great potential to accelerate erosion, prematurely fill wetlands, and degrade wetland functions. The most severe impact occurs when wetlands fill with so much sediment that they no longer pond water; such wetland have lost their capacity to perform most natural wetland functions. While the loss of wetland functions when basins totally fill with sediment is intuitive, the relationship of functional loss and degradation to gradual but chronic filling is less well appreciated and understood. In the following discussion, we examine impacts of sedimentation on primary production, aquatic invertebrates, wildlife habitat, and on hydrologic and water quality issues.
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