Managing upland vegetation as a mitigation strategy for climate change effects on prairie pothole wetlands
Recent wetland simulation modeling efforts suggest that global climate change may result in increased drying of prairie pothole wetlands as increased evaporation rates associated with warmer temperatures outpace potential increases in precipitation. Potential effects include reduced water depths and volumes, and shorter hydroperiods with seasonal wetlands being most vulnerable. However, precipitation and temperature alone are insufficient to explain annual variations in water conditions of prairie pothole wetlands and tremendous spatial and temporal variability across the regions hampers efforts to discern climate change effects. Given the great importance of prairie pothole wetlands to FWS trust resources (primarily waterfowl), a greater understanding of potential effects of a changing climate on these key wetland habitats is needed. In this cooperative effort with U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, we are exploring the potential to influence wetland water-levels and hydroperiods using upland management techniques (e.g., season specific burning, intensive grazing) as a potential strategy to mitigate some climate change effects.
David M Mushet