Effects of Climate Change on Waterfowl and Their Conservation in the Prairie Pothole Region

Effects of Climate Change on Waterfowl and Their Conservation in the Prairie Pothole Region

The PPR is the most important waterfowl production area in North America. However, waterfowl populations are predicted to decline because of climate change-induced drying of wetlands across the central and western PPR. As a result, changes in the geographic focus of PPR waterfowl conservation have been recommended, which could have long-lasting and costly impacts across the PPR. The HAPET office is assessing potential effects of climate change on waterfowl conservation in the region.

Multiple lines of evidence suggest that the PPR climate has changed in recent decades, but rather than decreasing as predicted, wetland numbers in the PPR have increased or show no trend.  Gradients in habitat loss across the PPR likely will be exacerbated as increased moisture, warmer temperatures, and changing agricultural practices stimulate intensification of land use. Consequently, direct effects of climate change on PPR wetlands and waterfowl may be overshadowed by indirect effects such as habitat loss. In addition, land costs and factors influencing waterfowl productivity indicate that conservation in the central and western portion of the PPR is more cost-effective than conservation in the eastern PPR. Acquiring reliable information to guide decisions will require extensive monitoring to develop competing models that can be evaluated to direct policy and management in an adaptive manner.

 
Partners: USFWS Migratory Birds Program, Region 6 HAPET, USDA Economic Research Service