Can we conserve wetlands under a changing climate? Mapping wetland hydrology across an ecoregion and developing climate adaptation recommendations


Meghan Halabisky, M., et. al. 2017. Mapping wetland hydrology across an ecoregion and developing climate adaptation recommendations.


Wetlands are valuable ecosystems that benefit society. They allow for gradual recharge of groundwater, control erosion, mitigate water pollution, provide water storage, support food and recreational bases for people, and play an important role in biogeochemical cycles (Bolund and Hunhammar, 1999; Zedler and Kercher, 2005). Additionally, wetlands are among the most biodiverse ecosystems in the world, due largely to their dynamic hydrology (Mitsch and Gosselink, 2007), which depends on factors directly influenced by climate, such as precipitation and evaporation. Because of these factors, wetlands are considered to be especially sensitive to climate change (Johnson and Poiani, 2016; Larson, 1995; Winter, 2000). A small change in precipitation or evaporation—which is dependent on temperature, among other factors—can alter wetland hydrology, which in turn impacts the ecology and function of the system (Ray et al., 2016; Rover et al., 2011; Schook and Cooper, 2014; Werner et al., 2013).

The overall goal of our project was two-fold. First, we strove to provide consistent, wall-to-wall data on wetland location, historical hydrologic dynamics, and projected climate change impacts on hydrologic dynamics. Secondly, our intent was to work with managers in using these data, so that they could translate existing, general climate change strategies to specific actions that support climate-smart management and conservation of wetlands across the Columbia Plateau.