South Dakota ecologist earns National Wetlands Research Award
Wetlands may be the least understood ecosystem, but their value is immense, according to Distinguished Professor W. Carter Johnson of the South Dakota State University Department of Natural Resource Management. “Anything that affects them will have a big impact on the landscape.”
For more than 40 years, the ecologist has studied wetlands along rivers and in the prairie pothole region that extends from Canada through the Dakotas to Iowa. In recognition of his contributions to wetlands conservation, Johnson received the National Wetlands Award for Science Research from the Environmental Law Institute.
Since 1989, the National Wetlands Awards program has honored individuals who have demonstrated extraordinary commitment to our nation’s wetlands.
Understanding importance of wetlands
Through his wetlands research, Johnson has sought to help people understand their importance. “They have so much biodiversity and importance to the health of the landscape,” he noted, citing wetlands teaming with birds, amphibians and beneficial insects. In addition, wetlands retain floodwaters and filter water naturally.
South Dakota has a unique legacy in its mixture of lakes, wetlands and grasslands. ”It’s an incredibly beautiful and productive landscape and we haven’t treated it very well,” Johnson said.
Most of the river or riparian wetlands along the Missouri River were lost when the reservoirs were established, according to Johnson. He estimated that 80 percent of the riparian wetlands have been destroyed. The only sizable remnants in South Dakota occur below Gavins Point and Fort Randall Dams. These reaches “retain much of their original biodiversity observed by Lewis and Clark,” he explained.
For his dissertation in the early 70s he studied the forests along the river. Two years ago, he looked at what has changed over the last 40 years. “The cottonwood is on the way out,” he noted, because they “require floods and new sandbars to regenerate.” American elm is mostly gone from Dutch elm disease and ash trees are being threatened by the emerald ash borer.
Restoring tall prairie grasses
Seven years ago, Johnson became one of the founders of the EcoSun Prairie Farms to demonstrate the viability of a “working grass farm,” as a means of restoring tall grass prairie and pothole wetlands. He and his cohorts formed the nonprofit organization and leased a section of land near Colman, where they began planting blue stem, prairie cord grass and other perennial species native to the area on retired cropland.
The farm generates income from three main sources—forage hay, native plant seed and, more recently, grass-fed beef, he explained. The native grasses require less input than rowcrops, while resulting in less erosion, better soil and water quality and more wildlife.
During the dry summer of 2012, he pointed out, “the grass farm didn’t show drought.” The plants were a bit shorter, but “nothing died and it all came back the next year.” A recent analysis showed a net yearly farm profit of $60,000, and the highest income levels came from wetland acres.
“It’s a different way of farming,” Johnson admitted, but one that farmers who own 400 to 600 acres might want to consider. “I hope we can get it worked onto other farms.”
About South Dakota State University
Founded in 1881, South Dakota State University is the state’s Morrill Act land-grant institution as well as its largest, most comprehensive school of higher education. SDSU confers degrees from eight different colleges representing more than 175 majors, minors and specializations. The institution also offers 29 master’s degree programs, 13 Ph.D. and two professional programs.
The work of the university is carried out on a residential campus in Brookings, at sites in Sioux Falls, Pierre and Rapid City, and through Cooperative Extension offices and Agricultural Experiment Station research sites across the state.
Christie Delfanian | newswise
Joint research project on wastewater for reuse examines pond system in Namibia
19.12.2016 | Technische Universität Darmstadt
Scientists produce a new roadmap for guiding development & conservation in the Amazon
09.12.2016 | Wildlife Conservation Society
Researchers from the University of Hamburg in Germany, in collaboration with colleagues from the University of Aarhus in Denmark, have synthesized a new superconducting material by growing a few layers of an antiferromagnetic transition-metal chalcogenide on a bismuth-based topological insulator, both being non-superconducting materials.
While superconductivity and magnetism are generally believed to be mutually exclusive, surprisingly, in this new material, superconducting correlations...
Laser-driving of semimetals allows creating novel quasiparticle states within condensed matter systems and switching between different states on ultrafast time scales
Studying properties of fundamental particles in condensed matter systems is a promising approach to quantum field theory. Quasiparticles offer the opportunity...
Among the general public, solar thermal energy is currently associated with dark blue, rectangular collectors on building roofs. Technologies are needed for aesthetically high quality architecture which offer the architect more room for manoeuvre when it comes to low- and plus-energy buildings. With the “ArKol” project, researchers at Fraunhofer ISE together with partners are currently developing two façade collectors for solar thermal energy generation, which permit a high degree of design flexibility: a strip collector for opaque façade sections and a solar thermal blind for transparent sections. The current state of the two developments will be presented at the BAU 2017 trade fair.
As part of the “ArKol – development of architecturally highly integrated façade collectors with heat pipes” project, Fraunhofer ISE together with its partners...
At TU Wien, an alternative for resource intensive formwork for the construction of concrete domes was developed. It is now used in a test dome for the Austrian Federal Railways Infrastructure (ÖBB Infrastruktur).
Concrete shells are efficient structures, but not very resource efficient. The formwork for the construction of concrete domes alone requires a high amount of...
Many pathogens use certain sugar compounds from their host to help conceal themselves against the immune system. Scientists at the University of Bonn have now, in cooperation with researchers at the University of York in the United Kingdom, analyzed the dynamics of a bacterial molecule that is involved in this process. They demonstrate that the protein grabs onto the sugar molecule with a Pac Man-like chewing motion and holds it until it can be used. Their results could help design therapeutics that could make the protein poorer at grabbing and holding and hence compromise the pathogen in the host. The study has now been published in “Biophysical Journal”.
The cells of the mouth, nose and intestinal mucosa produce large quantities of a chemical called sialic acid. Many bacteria possess a special transport system...
10.01.2017 | Event News
09.01.2017 | Event News
05.01.2017 | Event News
17.01.2017 | Earth Sciences
17.01.2017 | Materials Sciences
17.01.2017 | Architecture and Construction