As a frontier-type ecosystem, wetlands are particularly vulnerable to climatic variation and extreme events. Many wetlands are unstable to begin with, and are easily or frequently changed by erosion and flooding. As our climate changes, wetland water supply becomes a major concern. The hotter, drier summers we are experiencing combined with the increased use of water for irrigation could reduce the supply of water for wetlands. A lower volume of water would increase the concentrations of pollutants that settle in wetlands (agricultural chemicals, naturally occurring salts, atmospheric pollutants), and there is a real threat that wetlands will disappear altogether as evaporation empties them and runoff fails to recharge aquifers that sustain them. The loss of prairie wetlands spells doom for more than just ducks. Other wetland species such as muskrats, painted turtles, frogs, redwing and yellow-headed blackbirds and a diversity of aquatic invertebrates will also be out of a home.
For information on what you can do to combat climate change, visit the Climate
Change Connection website at climatechangeconnection.org/solutions.