Great Plains Studies, Center for


Date of this Version

Spring 1998


Published in Great Plains Research 8 (Spring 1998):113-36. Copyright © 1998 The Center for Great Plains Studies, University of Nebraska – Lincoln. Used by permission.


Relatively little is known about the factors which regulate in water biogeochemical processes and food chains in prairie wetlands. Climatic warming, increased UV-radiation and agricultural activities will have interacting effects on these wetlands. We examined the effects of these processes on prairie wetland functioning and productivity with particular emphasis on production and cycling of organic carbon, especially dissolved organic carbon (DOC). Autotrophic and heterotrophic production are temperature dependent and temperature increases or decreases could affect production under more extreme climate change scenarios. DOC concentrations could decrease with increasing bacterial production and photolysis, leading to increases in UV-radiation penetration. This is pertinent to prairie wetlands because of their general shallowness. Considering the potential consequences of climatic warming, increased UV-radiation and agricultural activity on biogeochemistry and food chains, it is imperative that we obtain an understanding of the major rate processes in prairie wetlands and how these may be affected by external processes.