Anthropogenic Forcing of Wetlands

This is a photo from outside Pelican Lake Recreation Area (Watertown, SD) that shows a prairie pothole in all its current glory: taken over by agriculture. An astonishing proportion of the Prairie Potholes Region (PPR) has been converted to agriculture, so this is what many of them look like now. Agricultural use has already significantly affected prairie wetlands and the species that use them, and is considered a top threat to these habitats. Not only does it mean removal of native grassland surrounding, but oftentimes changes to the wetlands themselves, such as draining, filling or ditching. This leads often to fewer wetlands and altered hydrology. In order to maintain effective habitat, of course I’m a proponent of preservation, but at the very least, we need to have sustainable practices that do not completely alter the bathymetry and many other components of these basins. The interactive effects of climate change and land use could spell serious threats to these ecosystems, both now and to come.

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