Wetland drying linked to variations in snowmelt runoff across Grand Teton and Yellowstone national parks

Science of the Total Environment
By: , and 

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Abstract

In Grand Teton and Yellowstone national parks wetlands offer critical habitat and play a key role in supporting biological diversity. The shallow depths and small size of many wetlands make them vulnerable to changes in climate compared with larger and deeper aquatic habitats. Here, we use a simple water balance model to generate estimates of biophysical drivers of wetland change. We then examine the relationship between wetland inundation status and four principal drivers (i.e., temperature, precipitation, evapotranspiration, and runoff) spanning varying meteorological conditions over an 8-year time series from Grand Teton and Yellowstone national parks. We found that a higher percentage of surveyed wetlands were dry in years characterized by lower snowmelt runoff. While runoff-based models were most supported, wetland drying was also related to variations in April to June precipitation and temperatures. Our work shows that wetland drying was widespread across both parks, but sub-regional variations were best described at the hydrologic subbasin-level. Documenting the varying responses of wetlands to meteorological drivers is a necessary first step to identifying which subbasins are most sensitive to recent change and contemplating how future change may alter the distribution of wetlands and their dependent taxa.

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Additional publication details

Publication type Article
Publication Subtype Journal Article
Title Wetland drying linked to variations in snowmelt runoff across Grand Teton and Yellowstone national parks
Series title Science of the Total Environment
DOI 10.1016/j.scitotenv.2019.02.296
Volume 666
Year Published 2019
Language English
Publisher Elsevier
Contributing office(s) Northern Rocky Mountain Science Center
Description 10 p.
First page 1188
Last page 1197
Country United states
State Idaho, Montana, Wyoming
Other Geospatial Grand Teton National Park, Yellowstone National Park