Upcoming Webinar: Evaluating Playa Wetland Vulnerability in Future Climates
Presenter: Rachel K. Owen University of Missouri, Columbia National Climate Adaptation Science Center ‘Science to Action’ Fellow
Date: February 20 at 3 pm ET
Summary: Playas are shallow, rain-fed wetlands throughout the Great Plains. When wet, playas provide crucial habitat for many wildlife species that depend on water to survive. When dry, playas also support several other Great Plains wildlife species because they are often the only natural lands in a region dominated by agricultural production. Playas also recharge water to the underlying High Plains aquifer, filter nutrients and chemicals from the surrounding watershed, and add recreational value to the region. Climate change poses a substantial threat to the already vulnerable playa ecosystems. Ecological research was conducted to evaluate the response of playa plant communities and soil biogeochemical processes to changes in precipitation and temperature associated with future climate conditions. Additionally, we surveyed landowners, managers, scientists, and community members in the Great Plains to understand regional climate change and ecological threat perceptions. By combining ecological and sociological data, we can assess the vulnerability of playas in a changing climate. Our results indicate that ecological factors may not be highly affected by changing precipitation or temperature, but that the social perceptions of climate change may limit the adaptability of playas to future conditions.