Submitted to: Soil and Water Conservation Society
Publication Type: Proceedings
Publication Acceptance Date: 7/21/2007
Publication Date: 7/25/2007
Citation: Smith, L., Haukos, D., Mcmurray, S., Gitz, D.C., Rainwater, K., Zartman, R., Hudnall, W. 2007. Influence of conservation practices on ecosystem services provided by playas in the High Plains[abstract]. Soil and Water Conservation Society. Tampa, Florida. July 21-25, 2007. p. 94. Interpretive Summary:
Technical Abstract: The majority of the High Plains region is comprised of shortgrass prairie. Within this shortgrass prairie region, playas are the dominant wetland type. Playas are shallow depressional recharge wetlands, each existing within their own individual catchments. This is also one of the most intensively cultivated regions in the western hemisphere, and therefore, playas are directly influenced by agricultural practices and USDA conservation programs. The primary ecosystem services provided by playas include biotic habitat, flood-water storage, and groundwater recharge. Because playas occur at the terminus of the individual catchments, they have received large amounts of eroded sediments from cultivation of the watershed. Therefore, our study is primarily examining the effects of sediments on groundwater recharge, surface water storage, and biotic habitat of playas and how conservation practices influence those ecosystem services by examining playas in native grassland, cropland, and USDA conservation watersheds. The primary conservation practices in the region fall under the Conservation Reserve Program. These practices were mainly aimed at planting of introduced and native grasses in playa catchments. It is likely that introduced grasses have a much different influence on playa hydrology and ecology than native grasses. The only Wetland Reserve Program practices directly related to playas in the High Plains have occurred in Nebraska. Sediments have altered the hydrology, biotic community, and water storage potential in playas; and therefore, we will present the existing effects data relative to those services, as well as providing insight into future conservation practices.