Effects of land use on greenhouse gas flux in playa wetlands and associated watersheds in the High Plains, USA

Agricultural Sciences
By: , and 

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Abstract

In the High Plains, U.S., native prairie conversion to cropland agriculture has resulted in a loss of service delivery capabilities from most depressional wetlands as a result of sedimentation. Restoring historic hydrological conditions to affected wetlands may rejuvenate some services, however, there may be tradeoffs due to emissions of CH4 and N2O. We evaluated the influence of two predominant conservation programs (Wetlands Reserve Program, WRP and Conservation Reserve Program, CRP) on gas emissions (CO2, CH4, N2O) from 42 playas and uplands in the High Plains of Nebraska. Because playa restoration through the WRP is most prevalent in the Rainwater Basin (RWB), we studied 27 playas/uplands among reference condition, cropland, and WRP land uses. We studied 15 playas/uplands within native grassland, cropland, and CRP land uses in the Western High Plains (WHP) of Nebraska. Emissions were collected bi-weekly from April-October of 2012 and 2013 from four landscape positions extending outward from the wetland center into upland. In RWB playas, CH4 and N2O emissions were similar among land uses but CO2 was 28% higher in cropland than WRP wetlands. Cropland uplands emitted 648% more N2O than reference and WRP uplands. Overall, net CO2-equiv emissions were lower in playas/uplands in WRP, suggesting that benefits of playa restoration may include climate mitigation services as well as increased water storage capacity and biodiversity provisioning. In the WHP, cropland and grassland playas emitted 46 and 23 times more CH4, respectively, than CRP in 2013. Playas in CRP emitted 43% less N2O than cropland playas. In 2013, net emissions for cropland and native grassland playas were 75% and 39% greater, respectively, than CRP playas. In the WHP, the benefits of lower gas emissions must be appropriately weighted against tradeoffs of ecosystem services related to shorter hydroperiods as a result of reduced runoff into playas in CRP.

Additional publication details

Publication type Article
Publication Subtype Journal Article
Title Effects of land use on greenhouse gas flux in playa wetlands and associated watersheds in the High Plains, USA
Series title Agricultural Sciences
DOI 10.4236/as.2019.102016
Volume 10
Issue 2
Year Published 2019
Language English
Publisher Scientific Research
Contributing office(s) Northern Prairie Wildlife Research Center
Description 21 p.
First page 181
Last page 201