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Professional Paper 1745

Ecosystem Services Derived from Wetland Conservation Practices in the United States Prairie Pothole Region with an Emphasis on the U.S. Department of Agriculture Conservation Reserve and Wetlands Reserve Programs

Edited by Robert A. Gleason, Murray K. Laubhan, and Ned H. Euliss, Jr.

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Professional Paper 1745
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Implementation of the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) Conservation Reserve Program (CRP) and Wetlands Reserve Program (WRP) has resulted in the restoration of approximately 2,200,000 ha (5,436,200 acres) of wetland and grassland habitats in the Prairie Pothole Region. These restored habitats are known to provide various ecosystem services; however, little work has been conducted to quantify and verify benefits on program lands (lands enrolled in the CRP and WRP) in agriculturally dominated landscapes of the Prairie Pothole Region. To address this need, the U.S. Geological Survey (USGS), in collaboration with the USDA Farm Service Agency and Natural Resources Conservation Service, initiated a study to develop and apply approaches to quantify changes in ecosystem services resulting from wetland restoration activities funded by the USDA. To accomplish this goal, the USGS conducted a comprehensive, stratified survey of 204 catchments (wetland and surrounding uplands contributing runoff to the wetland) in 1997 and 270 catchments in 2004 to gather data necessary for estimating various ecosystem services. In 1997 and 2004, the surveys included catchments with seasonal and semipermanent wetlands that were restored as part of USDA conservation programs, as well as nonprogram catchments in native prairie. Additionally, in 2004 data collection was expanded to include temporary wetlands for all treatments and nonprogram cropped catchments for all wetland classes: temporary, seasonal, and semipermanent. A key element in the sample design is that catchments span an alteration gradient ranging from highly altered, such as cropland, to minimally altered, such as native prairie. Therefore, we evaluated restoration programs by comparing changes in program (restored) catchments to nonprogram (cropland and native prairie) catchments. Information collected during both surveys included easily measured soil, vegetation, and morphological variables that were used to estimate the following ecosystem services: plant community quality and richness, carbon sequestration, floodwater storage, sediment and nutrient reduction, and potential wildlife habitat suitability. In this report, we evaluate the extent that these ecosystem services changed in restored wetlands relative to cropland and native prairie baselines. In most cases, our results indicate restoration activities funded by the USDA have positively influenced ecosystem services in comparison to a cropped wetland baseline; however, most benefits were only considered at a site-specific scale, and better quantification of off-site benefits associated with conservation programs will require detailed spatial data on all land areas enrolled in conservation programs.

Version 1.0

Posted February 2008


Suggested citation:

Gleason, R.A., Laubhan, M.K., and Euliss, N.H., Jr., eds., 2008, Ecosystem services derived from wetland conservation practices in the United States Prairie Pothole Region with an emphasis on the U.S. Department of Agriculture Conservation Reserve and Wetlands Reserve Programs: U.S. Geological Professional Paper 1745, 58 p.



Contents

Acknowledgments

Executive Summary—Ecosystem Services Derived From Wetland Conservation Practices in the United States Prairie Pothole Region with an Emphasis on the U.S. Department of Agriculture Conservation Reserve and Wetlands Reserve Programs

Principal Findings

Plant Community Quality and Richness

Carbon Sequestration

Floodwater Storage

Reduction of Sedimentation and Nutrient Loading

Potential Wildlife Habitat Suitability

Chapter A: Background and Approach to Quantification of Ecosystem Services

Introduction

Background

Methods

Report Format

References

Chapter B: Plant Community Quality and Richness

Synopsis

Methods

Results

Floristic Quality Index

Species Richness

Discussion

References

Chapter C: Carbon Sequestration

Synopsis

Methods

Data Collection

Data Analyses

Results

Soil Organic Carbon

Vegetation Organic Carbon

Discussion

References

Chapter D: Floodwater Storage

Synopsis

Methods

Topographic Surveys

Model Development

Estimating Water Storage, Upland Zones of Catchments, and Interception Areas

Results

Discussion

References

Chapter E: Reduction of Sedimentation and Nutrient Loading

Synopsis

Methods

Results

Discussion

References

Chapter F: Proposed Approach to Assess Potential Wildlife Habitat Suitability on Program Lands

Synopsis

Methods

Results

Discussion

References



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