Dr. Gene Albanese, Post-Doctoral Research Fellow
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
(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