2009 Progress Report: Non-Linear Response of Prairie Pothole Landscapes to Climate Change and Land Management

EPA Grant Number: R833016
Title: Non-Linear Response of Prairie Pothole Landscapes to Climate Change and Land Management
Investigators: Johnson, Carter , Olker, Jennifer H. , Guntenspergen, Glenn R. , Millett, Bruce V , Rashford, Ben , Werner, Brett , Tulbure, Mirela , Fay, Phil , Adams, Richard , Voldseth, Richard
Institution: South Dakota State University , United States Geological Survey [USGS] , Oregon State University
Current Institution: South Dakota State University , Oregon State University , United States Geological Survey [USGS]
EPA Project Officer: Packard, Benjamin H
Project Period: July 1, 2006 through July 31, 2010 (Extended to December 31, 2010)
Project Period Covered by this Report: August 1, 2008 through July 31,2009
Project Amount: $856,574
RFA: Nonlinear Responses to Global Change in Linked Aquatic and Terrestrial Ecosystems and Effects of Multiple Factors on Terrestrial Ecosystems: A Joint Research Solicitation- EPA, DOE (2005) RFA Text |  Recipients Lists
Research Category: Global Climate Change , Ecosystems , Climate Change


Our research has five objectives:
(1) Use and modify as needed a new climate driven wetland dynamics model (WETLANDSCAPE) to identify and characterize threshold responses of prairie potholes to climate change and land management.
(2) Select model output variables and develop indices known to be climate sensitive and to exert significant control of biodiversity in pothole wetlands.
 (3) Evaluate with field data the role of existing and potential terrestrial land management (farming) practices coded in WETLANDSCAPE and the economic consequences associated with the various cropping options.
(4) Simulate thresholds in model responses to climate change and human-induced land management alternatives.
(5) Continue monitoring of wetland surface water and groundwater well levels at two long-term field sites to facilitate model parameterization and testing.

Progress Summary:

 In year 3 of our project, we were able to overcome several problems in calibrating WETLANDSCAPE (WLS) that had previously slowed our manuscript production.  Calibration success enabled us to conduct numerous analytical exercises consistent with objective (1) needed to complete our first comprehensive paper using WLS that examines the effect of climate change on a prairie wetland complex.  A manuscript entitled “Prairie wetland complexes as landscape functional units in a changing climate” was submitted to BioScience and accepted for publication as the feature article (February issue 2010).  This paper takes a broad look at the wetland complex (vegetation, hydrology, waterfowl) across the Prairie Pothole Region (PPR) under several climate change scenarios. 
     Objective (2) was met in year 3 by developing a new index for semi-permanent members of the wetland complex that establishes optimal climatic conditions for waterfowl production.  Departures from the optimal scores constitute a quantitative assessment of the effects of both spatial and temporal variability in future climate across the PPR.  This new index (Cover Cycle Index, CCI) was used extensively in the BioScience 2010 article.  Additionally, we devised a graphic method of evaluating the effects of climate change on the production potential for waterfowl, amphibians, and other wetland organisms in seasonal wetlands that have life history thresholds linked to wetland hydroperiod.  This method plots the percentage of time that specific hydroperiod thresholds are reached or exceeded against several climate scenarios.  Our analyses in the BioScience 2010 paper report that the percentage of years with a minimum hydroperiod threshold of about 100 days per year (a general average time requirement for waterfowl and amphibians to complete their life cycles) would be reduced by as much as 95 percent with a 4 degree C increase in air temperature at some weather stations.   
      Adaptation of farming practices to mitigate adverse impacts of climate change on wetland water levels is a potential watershed management option as described in objective (3).  Calibration problems with WLS slowed progress in incorporating land use options as model variables.  As these are now resolved, progress was made in completing this objective in year 3; however, the work is not yet complete. This new capability in WLS will enable us to start conducting an economic analysis of duck productivity under climate change (objective 3).  The results of this analysis will:  (1) determine whether intensive management activities can cost-effectively mitigate the effects of climate change on breeding waterfowl, and (2) describe how the costs of mitigating climate change effects on waterfowl change under alternative climate scenarios.  One paper on this subject using WETSIM, the precursor to WLS, was published in 2009 (Voldseth et al. 2009).
     WLS is now ready for use in conducting analyses of nonlinear or threshold effects associated with incremental climate change (objective 4).  Work during the past 3 years to test and evaluate model components, develop capacity to evaluate economic consequences of management, and construction of a new series of  temperature and precipitation scenarios for our modeling using CLIMGEN based on the most recent IPCC GCMs  have prepared us for these nonlinear analyses.  One comprehensive paper on the climate history of the PPR was published in 2009 (Millett et al. 2009).
     Consistent with objective (5), model parameterization and calibration in the past year has been improved by installing and testing level-loggers at our long-term Orchid Meadows and Crystal Springs field sites.  Good water conditions in the western PPR in 2008-2009 also provided our first opportunity to monitor water level dynamics at our new field site (Goebel Ranch) near Aberdeen, SD.  Water levels in 34 wetlands (total from our 3 sites) were recorded every 30 minutes during the growing season, compared to every 2 weeks during our previous studies.  Weather data from our Orchid Meadows field site also was greatly improved by installation of a remote weather station in 2007 with real-time access via the internet.  

Journal Articles on this Report : 3 Displayed | Download in RIS Format

Other project views: All 58 publications 7 publications in selected types All 6 journal articles
Type Citation Project Document Sources
Journal Article Johnson WC, Werner B, Guntenspergen GR, Voldseth RA, Millett B, Naugle DE, Tulbure M, Carroll RWH, Tracy J, Olawsky C. Prairie wetland complexes as landscape functional units in a changing climate. BioScience 2010;60(2):128-140. R833016 (2008)
R833016 (2009)
R833016 (2010)
R833016 (Final)
  • Full-text: BioOne-Full Text HTML
  • Abstract: BioOne-Abstract
  • Other: BioOne-Full Text PDF
  • Journal Article Millett B, Johnson WC, Guntenspergen G. Climate trends of the North American prairie pothole region 1906-2000. Climatic Change 2009;93(1-2):243-267. R833016 (2007)
    R833016 (2009)
    R833016 (2010)
    R833016 (Final)
  • Full-text: Minnesota Department of Natural Resources-Full Text PDF
  • Abstract: Springer-Abstract
  • Other: ResearchGate-Full Text PDF
  • Journal Article Voldseth RA, Johnson WC, Guntenspergen GR, Gilmanov T, Millett BV. Adaptation of farming practices could buffer effects of climate change on Northern Prairie wetlands. Wetlands 2009;29(2):635-647. R833016 (2008)
    R833016 (2009)
    R833016 (2010)
    R833016 (Final)
  • Full-text: ResearchGate-Full Text PDF
  • Abstract: Springer-Abstract
  • Supplemental Keywords:

    ecological effects, non-linear effects, ecosystem, scaling, modeling, climate models, biodiversity, threshold, North Dakota-ND, South Dakota-SD, Iowa-IO, Minnesota-MN, Canadian Prairies., RFA, Scientific Discipline, Air, climate change, Air Pollution Effects, Environmental Monitoring, Ecological Risk Assessment, Atmosphere, anthropogenic stress, biodiversity, environmental stressors, ecosystem impacts, landscape characterization, climate variability, Global Climate Change

    Relevant Websites:

     http://wetlandscape.sdstate.orgexit EPA

    Progress and Final Reports:

    Original Abstract
  • 2007 Progress Report
  • 2008 Progress Report
  • 2010 Progress Report
  • Final Report