Paper No. 2
Presentation Time: 8:25 AM
INFLUENCES OF CRITICAL ZONE PROCESSES ON BIOTA OF PRAIRIE POTHOLE WETLANDS
Complex climatic, hydrologic and geochemical processes have a profound influence on Earth’s plant and animal communities. The influence of these critical zone processes on biota is especially evident in the Prairie Pothole Region of North America where wetland habitats vary markedly in their interaction with groundwater and climate cycles shift between periods of drought and periods of abundant precipitation over remarkably short temporal scales. For the past 20 years, we have monitored plant, invertebrate, amphibian, and bird communities of 17 prairie pothole wetlands making up a wetland complex in Stutsman County, North Dakota, known as the Cottonwood Lake Study Area. Through multiple interdisciplinary collaborations at the study area, we have gained an in-depth understanding of climatic, hydrological and geochemical processes affecting water persistence, depth, and chemical composition as wetlands with differing connections to groundwater cycle in response to climate variation. By examining changes that have occurred in biotic communities and how they are driven by changes resulting from critical zone processes, a greater understanding of community response is obtained. Understanding the response of biotic communities to critical zone processes and the co-occurring influence of biotic communities on these processes will facilitate our ability to forecast how communities will respond to a changing climate. This understanding is also critical to the development of effective mitigation strategies focused on sustainability of the region’s diverse wetland ecosystems.