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Implementation of the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) Conservation Reserve Program (CRP) and Wetlands Reserve Program (WRP) has resulted in the restoration of >2 million ha of wetland and grassland habitats in the Prairie Pothole Region (PPR). Restoration of habitats through these programs provides diverse ecosystem services to society, but few investigators have evaluated the environmental benefits achieved by these programs. We describe changes in wetland processes, functions, and ecosystem services that occur when wetlands and adjacent uplands on agricultural lands are restored through Farm Bill conservation programs. At the scale of wetland catchments, projects have had positive impacts on water storage,...
Cyanobacteria are known to form a crust on soil surfaces holding soil particles together and thereby offering resistance to erosion. A controlled experiment was carried out to throw light on this issue. The experiment consisted of subjecting erosion cups filled with soil to artificial rainfall in the laboratory. Three sets of erosion cups, each set consisting of six, were used. One set consisted of soil with inoculated cyanobacteria and the second set consisted of soil with naturally colonized cyanobacteria, both over a period of about 8 months. The third set consisted of soil with no bacterial growth. The results indicate that the soil erosion cups with the inoculated cyanobacterial crust had at least one order...
Desert grasslands, which are very sensitive to external drivers like climate change, are areas affected by rapid land degradation processes. In many regions of the world the common form of land degradation involves the rapid encroachment of woody plants into desert grasslands. This process, thought to be irreversible and sustained by biophysical feedbacks of global desertification, results in the heterogeneous distribution of vegetation and soil resources. Most of these shrub-grass transition systems at the desert margins are prone to disturbances such as fires, which affect the interactions between ecological, hydrological, and land surface processes. Here we investigate the effect of prescribed fires on the landscape...