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
Litter is present throughout the world’s oceans: 1,220 species affected
27.03.2017 | Alfred-Wegener-Institut, Helmholtz-Zentrum für Polar- und Meeresforschung
International network connects experimental research in European waters
21.03.2017 | Leibniz-Institut für Gewässerökologie und Binnenfischerei (IGB)
The Institute of Semiconductor Technology and the Institute of Physical and Theoretical Chemistry, both members of the Laboratory for Emerging Nanometrology (LENA), at Technische Universität Braunschweig are partners in a new European research project entitled ChipScope, which aims to develop a completely new and extremely small optical microscope capable of observing the interior of living cells in real time. A consortium of 7 partners from 5 countries will tackle this issue with very ambitious objectives during a four-year research program.
To demonstrate the usefulness of this new scientific tool, at the end of the project the developed chip-sized microscope will be used to observe in real-time...
Astronomers from Bonn and Tautenburg in Thuringia (Germany) used the 100-m radio telescope at Effelsberg to observe several galaxy clusters. At the edges of these large accumulations of dark matter, stellar systems (galaxies), hot gas, and charged particles, they found magnetic fields that are exceptionally ordered over distances of many million light years. This makes them the most extended magnetic fields in the universe known so far.
The results will be published on March 22 in the journal „Astronomy & Astrophysics“.
Galaxy clusters are the largest gravitationally bound structures in the universe. With a typical extent of about 10 million light years, i.e. 100 times the...
Researchers at the Goethe University Frankfurt, together with partners from the University of Tübingen in Germany and Queen Mary University as well as Francis Crick Institute from London (UK) have developed a novel technology to decipher the secret ubiquitin code.
Ubiquitin is a small protein that can be linked to other cellular proteins, thereby controlling and modulating their functions. The attachment occurs in many...
In the eternal search for next generation high-efficiency solar cells and LEDs, scientists at Los Alamos National Laboratory and their partners are creating...
Silicon nanosheets are thin, two-dimensional layers with exceptional optoelectronic properties very similar to those of graphene. Albeit, the nanosheets are less stable. Now researchers at the Technical University of Munich (TUM) have, for the first time ever, produced a composite material combining silicon nanosheets and a polymer that is both UV-resistant and easy to process. This brings the scientists a significant step closer to industrial applications like flexible displays and photosensors.
Silicon nanosheets are thin, two-dimensional layers with exceptional optoelectronic properties very similar to those of graphene. Albeit, the nanosheets are...
20.03.2017 | Event News
14.03.2017 | Event News
07.03.2017 | Event News
29.03.2017 | Materials Sciences
29.03.2017 | Physics and Astronomy
29.03.2017 | Earth Sciences