Recent Press Releases

Washington, DC —  Senator John Thune today announced the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) has awarded South Dakota State University (SDSU) an $856,000 research grant to study the effects of climate change and land use on biodiversity in the Prairie Pothole region of the northern Great Plains.

"South Dakota State University will use this important funding to strengthen its research of one of the most important wetlands regions in the world," Thune said. "Not only will this funding assist efforts to better understand and protect South Dakota's wetlands and watersheds, it will also enhance SDSU's already well respected status in the field of science and research."

The Prairie Pothole region -- including large parts of North Dakota, South Dakota, Minnesota, Wisconsin and Iowa -- is considered one of the most important wetland regions in the world. The landscape in this region is pockmarked with a large number of depressions (potholes), left behind by receding glaciers, that fill with snowmelt and rain in the spring. It is estimated that these pothole wetlands support more than 50 percent of North American migratory waterfowl, as well a many other animals, plants and insects. Prairie potholes are likely to be affected by the combined effects of climate change and land management practices. The possibility that waterfowl populations will diminish across North America because of these effects is of particular concern.

The EPA Science to Achieve Results (STAR) research grant will identify possible future climatic and land use conditions that could sharply reduce biodiversity in wetlands across the Prairie Pothole region. Using a computer model that simulates wetland dynamics, researchers at SDSU will characterize the responses of prairie potholes to climate change and farming practices in order to improve science-based management of these important natural resources. Specifically, researchers will investigate how land management affects wetland biodiversity, as well as the extent to which human adjustments such as land use changes can lessen the severity of impacts of climate on natural ecosystems in this region.