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Development of Conservation and Climate Adaptation Strategies for Wetlands in the Great Plains LCC Region

Dr. Gene Albanese, Post-Doctoral Research Fellow

Project Supervisors:
Dr. David Haukos
Dr. Susan Skagen

Dr. Mindy Rice
Dr. David Hamilton

U.S. Geological Survey

Location: High Plains of
Texas, New Mexico, Oklahoma, Kansas, and Colorado

Saline lakes (above) and playa wetlands are the primary wetland types of the High Plains.

Completion: September 2015

Status: On-going

(1) Conduct a network analysis of playa wetlands.
(2) Determine the effect of playa loss on delivery of ecosystem goods and services.

Progress and Results:
The project was initiated in September 2011. A network analysis of wetland systems in the GPLCC will be conducted. This will primarily focus on playa wetlands but include saline lakes in the final product. The results of this research will identify clusters of playas and individuals wetlands critical to the connectivity of playa clusters. In addition, isolation of playas and other wetlands and the effect on endemic and wetland-dependent species will be assessed. There will be determination of the scope and value of ecological goods and services provided by playas and other wetlands in the GPLCC. Included will be valuation of ecological services historically provided, currently provided in light of recent assessment of wetland loss, and future provisions under current rates of wetland loss and degradation. Further, relationships among current landscape management and conservation strategies on delivery of ecological services provided by GPLCC wetland systems will be addressed. This includes effects of agricultural and water conservation strategies, habitat management practices and prescriptions, playa restoration approaches, Conservation Reserve Program (CRP) and wetland buffer strip plant propagation; establishment, sustainability, ecology, and effectiveness of filtering sediments; wildlife habitat enhancement and connectivity; and climate change and adaptation on wildlife habitat quality and playa wetland function (including groundwater recharge and water quality improvement). Development of information for initiation of adaptive resource management plans and landscape scale models concerning management prescription effectiveness and impacts of climate change on vegetation responses, habitat quality for various species of terrestrial or aquatic wildlife, and playa wetland and saline lake ecological and hydrological functions. This will include extensive literature reviews of the ecology of playa wetlands and saline lakes.