, Volume 32, Issue 6, pp 1103–1113 | Cite as

Inundation of Playa Wetlands in the Western Great Plains Relative to Landcover Context

  • Anne M. BartuszevigeEmail author
  • David C. PavlackyJr.
  • Lucy Burris
  • Kathy Herbener


Playa wetlands in the western Great Plains of the United States are an essential component of the ecological and hydrological systems in the region. However, these wetlands are threatened through culturally-accelerated sedimentation from the surrounding row-crop dominated landscape. As a consequence, conservation efforts have focused mainly on installing Conservation Reserve Program (CRP) grasslands around playas but these may impede water from reaching playa basins. Thus, better understanding of the factors that influence inundation is needed for effective conservation of playas. The objectives of this project were to investigate the effects of hydrological factors, landcover at local and watershed scales, and thresholds for playa inundation in a variety of landscape conditions. We used generalized linear mixed modeling to determine the landscape and hydrological factors that influence playa inundation. We found playa inundation was positively related to amount of rainfall in the previous 14 days, the variation in amount of rainfall, playa area and the slope of the surrounding landscape. After accounting for hydrological factors, we found CRP adjacent to the playa and CRP in the watershed had a larger influence on playa inundation than the landcover of Pasture or Grassland. There was a negative non-linear effect of CRP on playa inundation and evidence for a negative linear effect at the watershed scale. Playa conservation is an integral component of the Ogallala Initiative, and Farm Bill programs such as CRP are essential conservation tools thus it is imperative that we understand potential impacts of such programs in order to inform improvements.


Agriculture Buffers Conservation reserve program High plains Landscape 



Research funding was provided by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, Grant # WD-83418201. U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, Nebraska Games and Parks Commission, Colorado Parks and Wildlife, Playa Lakes Joint Venture, Rocky Mountain Bird Observatory, and U.S. Geological Survey provided additional support. Colorado State University, Department of Anthropology, Geospatial Laboratory provided computer services. Megan McLachlan, Playa Lakes Joint Venture provided playa and land use information, Susan Skagen, USGS Fort Collins Science Center provided playa survey data. Kevin Schauer processed GIS data layers. We thank Mike Carter, Dave Haukos, Bill Johnson, Ted LaGrange, Laura Quattrini and Christopher Rustay for providing excellent comments that greatly improved this manuscript. Two anonymous reviewers provided comments that further improved the manuscript. Any use of trade, product, or firm names is for descriptive purposes only and does not imply endorsement by the authors or their respective organizations. Thank you to Kathy Herbener for providing the foundation of this research. Her dedication and enthusiasm for conservation will not be forgotten.

Supplementary material

13157_2012_340_MOESM1_ESM.docx (14 kb)
ESM 1 (DOCX 13 kb)


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Copyright information

© Society of Wetland Scientists 2012

Authors and Affiliations

  • Anne M. Bartuszevige
    • 1
    Email author
  • David C. PavlackyJr.
    • 2
  • Lucy Burris
    • 3
  • Kathy Herbener
    • 3
  1. 1.Playa Lakes Joint VentureLafayetteUSA
  2. 2.Rocky Mountain Bird ObservatoryBrightonUSA
  3. 3.Graduate Degree Program in Ecology, 238 Natural Resources BuildingColorado State UniversityFort CollinsUSA

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