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South Dakota State University receives $856,000 EPA research grant

Release Date: 08/28/2006
Contact Information: Jennifer Robbins, EPA National Center for Environmental Research, 202 343-9344; Dr. W. Carter Johnson, 605 688-4729, SDSU; Richard Mylott, EPA Region 8, 303 312-6654; Patti Tyler, EPA Region 8, 303 312-6081

STAR grant will support study of climate change impacts to prairie pothole wetlands

      {Denver, Colo.-- 08/28/2006} South Dakota State University will receive $856,574 in grant funding from the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency to study the effects of climate change and land use on biodiversity in the Prairie Pothole region of the northern Great Plains.
"This research will support EPA's efforts to protect wetlands and watersheds by enhancing our understanding of one of the nation's most unique and biologically significant resources," said EPA Region 8 science advisor, Patti Tyler. "The ability of the Prairie Pothole region to remain a healthy, functioning natural system will increasingly depend on resource management decisions that are based on sound science."

The Prairie Pothole region -- including large parts of North Dakota, South Dakota, Minnesota, Wisconsin and Iowa -- is considered one of the most important wetland regions in the world. The landscape in this region is pockmarked with a large number of depressions (potholes), left behind by receding glaciers, that fill with snowmelt and rain in the spring. It is estimated that these pothole wetlands support more than 50 percent of North American migratory waterfowl as well as many other animals, plants and insects. Prairie potholes are likely to be affected by the combined effects of climate change and land management practices. The possibility that waterfowl populations will diminish across North America because of these effects is of particular concern.

The EPA Science to Achieve Results (STAR) research grant will identify possible future climatic and land use conditions that could sharply reduce biodiversity in wetlands across the Prairie Pothole region. Using a computer model that simulates wetland dynamics, researchers at South Dakota State University will characterize the responses of prairie potholes to climate change and farming practices in order to improve science-based management of these important natural resources. Specifically, researchers will investigate how land management affects wetland biodiversity, as well as the extent to which human adjustments such as land use changes can lessen the severity of impacts of climate on natural ecosystems in this region.

EPA's STAR program funds research grants and graduate fellowships in numerous environmental science and engineering disciplines through a competitive solicitation process and independent peer review. The program engages the nation’s best scientists and engineers in targeted research that complements EPA’s own research programs and those of our partners in other federal agencies.

In conducting this study, South Dakota State University, in Brookings, S.D., will work in cooperation with Oregon State University at Corvallis. In addition, the U.S. Geological Survey (Patuxent, Md.); the U.S. Forest Service (Grand Rapids, Minn.); and the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Agricultural Research Service (Temple, Texas) will be partners. This grant is one of six that EPA is awarding in response to a request for applications called “Nonlinear Responses to Global Change in Linked Aquatic and Terrestrial Ecosystems and Effects of Multiple Factors on Terrestrial Ecosystems.”