Big Three Takeaways: Wetland Values for Water Management

The Current Webinar 38: Wetland Values for Water Management focused on the varied issues surrounding wetland water, soil, and species across the North Central Region.  Extension professionals and water science experts offered unique perspectives and research highlighting key areas of importance in wetland water management, specifically looking at the effects agriculture and invasive species have on these resources.

Miss the webinar and don’t have time to watch the recording? Not a problem – here are three big takeaways:

  1. According to Larry Cihacek’s research, disturbed wetlands in proximity to agricultural lands have higher pH levels, higher salinity, and lower organic matter likely due to tillage and cultivation, leaching, and erosion of calcareous materials.
  2. Dr. Jake Kerby’s team found that wetlands affected by agricultural tile drainage systems had higher nutrient loads like nitrate, higher levels of neonicotinoids, and higher levels of selenium.  The high levels of selenium found in these wetlands, Kerby says, is transferring from the soil to wetland insects and the overall wetland food web.
  3. Michael Monfils explained that many indicators demonstrate marsh birds decline in recent years but there is still a lot we don’t know. His team is working on a myriad of research examining marsh birds in the Great Lakes Region to determine accurate population estimates, patterns in new or refined marsh bird habitats, and how altering and restoring wetlands affects wetland birds.

Want more? Here are a few more details on our featured speakers and their presentations. You can also watch the full webinar recording on the Network’s YouTube Channel.


Photo credit: Jake Kerby, University of South Dakota

Larry Cihacek, Professor of Soil Science, North Dakota State University: Biogeochemical differences in disturbed and undisturbed wetlands of the Prairie Pothole Region

Larry Cihacek presented on the biogeochemical differences between disturbed and undisturbed wetlands in the Prairie Pothole Region of North Dakota.  Cihacek explained his team’s methods of sampling, which included taking six core samples from disturbed wetlands and six core samples from undisturbed wetlands.  In each of the twelve wetlands, researchers took seven samples, five for analysis and two for the profile description.  Cihacek also explained his analysis methods and data processing.

Dr. Jake Kerby, Associate Professor of Biology, University of South Dakota: Investigating the impacts of agricultural tile drainage systems on wetland flora and fauna

Dr. Kerby’s presentation offered a brief look at the effects agricultural tile drainage systems on wetland flora and fauna.  Kerby explained how tile drainage systems work and how his research compares wetlands affected by tiled drainage to surface drained wetlands and reference wetlands using the South Dakota Wetland Rapid Assessment Protocol (WRAP).

Michael Monfils, Conservation Scientist, Michigan State University: Ongoing Research to Inform the Conservation of Wetland Birds in the Great Lakes Region

Michael Monfils’ presentation showcased the plethora of research being conducted to help bridge the knowledge gap on marsh birds, who are one of the most under-studied bird species.  These studies include:

  • Evaluating Marsh Bird Habitat Associations at Fine and Large Spatial Scales
    • This study aims to assess patterns in variable associations across several species and identify variables to include in new or refined marsh bird habitat models for regional planning
  • Marsh Bird Response to Hydrologic Alteration and Restoration
    • This study is altering and restoring various wetlands through different methods and measuring the response in wetland bird species
  • Marsh Bird Use of Impounded and Unimpounded Wetlands of the Great Lakes Region
    • This study is comparing bird use between artificially flooded wetlands and wetlands not artificially flooded
  • Marsh Bird Population Estimates to Inform Conservation Decisions in the Midwest
    • This study is planning to develop population estimates for wetland bird species in order to track population growth or decline and form conservation practices
  • Effects of invasive Phragmites and control efforts on bird and plant communities in Saginaw Bay
    • This study, being conducted on Lake Huron, is focusing on the effects the invasive plant, Phragmites, is having on wetlands and marsh bird species

For more information on our speakers and the work presented in this webinar, please contact the presenters:

You can also check out this webinar in full on our YouTube channel.

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