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Fact Sheet 2011–3030

Avian Conservation in the Prairie Pothole Region, Northern Great Plains: Understanding the Links between Climate, Ecosystem Processes, Wetland Management, and Bird Communities

By S.K. Skagen and C.P. Melcher

Thumbnail of and link to Fact Sheet PDF (7.38 MB)

The Prairie Pothole Region of North America is characterized by myriad semi-permanent, seasonal, and temporary wetlands interspersed among rivers in a context of prairie uplands. These wetlands have supported millions of en route and breeding wetland-dependent birds. Many changes in land use and climate are likely to affect these wetland habitats by shifting their seasonal availability; the distribution of water and vegetation; and the phenology (annual recurrence of phenomena) of vegetation green-up, seed production, and insect emergence. In concert, these changes could alter the capacity of habitats in the Prairie Pothole Region to support waterbirds. A team of U.S. Geological Survey scientists and cooperators with expertise in the sciences of climate, hydrology, and ecology has convened to address the potential impacts of climate change on wetland-dependent species in the Prairie Pothole Region. This team is developing a set of products which includes: a synthesis of current knowledge on the interrelationships of climate, wetlands condition, and bird communities; historical and future projections of climate; and models forecasting both the effects and biological outcomes of climate change on the Prairie Pothole Region wetlands and bird responses to predicted changes. The outcomes of this research will inform and assist managers and conservation professionals tasked with conserving populations of wetland-dependent birds.

First posted March 9, 2011

For additional information contact:

Center Director, USGS Fort Collins Science Center
2150 Centre Ave., Bldg. C
Fort Collins, CO 80526-8118

This report is presented in Portable Document Format (PDF); the latest version of Adobe Reader or similar software is required to view it. Download the latest version of Adobe Reader, free of charge.

Suggested citation:

Skagen, S.K., and Melcher, C.P., 2011, Avian conservation in the Prairie Pothole Region, Northern Great Plains—Understanding the links between climate, ecosystem processes, wetland management, and bird communities: U.S. Geological Survey Fact Sheet 2011–3030, 4 p.

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