Hydrology of prairie wetlands: Understanding the integrated surface-water and groundwater processes

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Wetland managers and policy makers need to make decisions based on a sound scientific understanding of hydrological and ecological functions of wetlands. This article presents an overview of the hydrology of prairie wetlands intended for managers, policy makers, and researchers new to this field (e.g., graduate students), and a quantitative conceptual framework for understanding the hydrological functions of prairie wetlands and their responses to changes in climate and land use. The existence of prairie wetlands in the semi-arid environment of the Prairie-Pothole Region (PPR) depends on the lateral inputs of runoff water from their catchments because mean annual potential evaporation exceeds precipitation in the PPR. Therefore, it is critically important to consider wetlands and catchments as highly integrated hydrological units. The water balance of individual wetlands is strongly influenced by runoff from the catchment and the exchange of groundwater between the central pond and its moist margin. Land-use practices in the catchment have a sensitive effect on runoff and hence the water balance. Surface and subsurface storage and connectivity among individual wetlands controls the diversity of pond permanence within a wetland complex, resulting in a variety of eco-hydrological functionalities necessary for maintaining the integrity of prairie-wetland ecosystems.

Additional publication details

Publication type Article
Publication Subtype Journal Article
Title Hydrology of prairie wetlands: Understanding the integrated surface-water and groundwater processes
Series title Wetlands
DOI 10.1007/s13157-016-0797-9
Volume 36
Issue s2
Year Published 2016
Language English
Publisher Springer
Contributing office(s) National Research Program - Central Branch
Description 18 p.
First page 237
Last page 254
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