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United States Department of Agriculture

Agricultural Research Service

Title: Profiling Cover Cycle Dynamics for Prairie Pothole Wetland Landscapes

Authors
item Phillips, Beckie
item Beeri, Ofer - UNIV OF ND,GRAND FORKS,ND

Submitted to: Book Chapter
Publication Type: Book / Chapter
Publication Acceptance Date: May 15, 2008
Publication Date: December 1, 2008
Citation: Phillips, B.L., Beeri, O. 2008. Profiling Cover Cycle Dynamics for Prairie Pothole Wetland Landscapes. Book Chapter. IN: Wetlands, Ecology, Conservation and Restoration. Chapter 14. p.407-418.

Interpretive Summary: There are over 3 million wetlands located in the U.S. portion of the Prairie Pothole Region (PPR). Conservation in this region is a concern because the PPR supports more waterfowl than any other region in North America. One of the conservation goals in the PPR is restoration or preservation of natural ecosystem functions associated with changes in wetland cover. This is difficult because wetland cover is highly dynamic and fluctuates within and between years. One possible way to determine cover changes is to use satellite data collected regularly every 16 days. These data have been modeled to estimate the areas of water ponding and wetland vegetation. Together, these pieces of information can be used to describe the stage of wetland cover, known as the cover cycle. The cover cycle includes periods of time where high waters drown wetland vegetation during deluge and periods where wetland vegetation expands as waters dry-down during drought. These dynamics result in a rich diversity of habitats. Application of satellite data can indicate habitat changes and responses to climate for large areas. In this paper, we describe how to apply these data and present an example of how to profile wetlands in a 100 km2 North Dakota landscape. We compare current wetland cover profiles with profiles based on the National Wetland Inventory (NWI), which was performed in North Dakota between 1979 and 1981. Our results suggest these types of large-scale observations will advance conservation planning, assessment and monitoring efforts.

Technical Abstract: The national call to assess effects of conservation requires wetland profiles reflect current and long-term natural variability, which poses a significant challenge for over 3 million wetlands located in the U.S. portion of the Prairie Pothole Region (PPR). One of the conservation goals in the PPR is restoration or preservation of natural ecosystem functions associated with changes in wetland cover. These seasonal and annual changes in vegetation and open water are coupled to climate and are described as the cover cycle. The cover cycle includes periods of time where high waters drown hydric vegetation during deluge and periods where hydric vegetation expands as waters dry-down during drought. Cover cycle dynamics contribute to a rich diversity of habitats that support more waterfowl than any other region in North America. Synoptic data indicative of cover cycle stage and return time would scaffold large-scale investigations of ecosystems services, habitat status, and sensitivity to climate change. This paper describes application of previously developed tools for synoptic delineation of wetland water and hydric vegetation cover to classify cover cycle for thousands of wetland basins within a single satellite image (10,000-30,000 km2 of land area). Using satellite data layers in geographic information systems (GIS), wetland profiles developed using current (2007) wetland cover data are compared with profiles developed using National Wetland Inventory (NWI) data from 1980. Results underscore the dynamic nature of these ecosystems and the need for current observations when setting conservation goals, monitoring restoration effectiveness, and evaluating anthropogenic impacts.

Last Modified: 4/19/2014
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