Great Plains Studies, Center for


Date of this Version

Fall 2005


Published in Great Plains Research 15:2 (Fall 2005). Copyright © 2005 The Center for Great Plains Studies, University of Nebraska – Lincoln. Used by permission.


Loren M. Smith and his students at Texas Tech have been studying the ecology of playas for two decades. Playas of the Great Plains is the fruit of that work.
Playas (or playa lakes) are shallow, circular basins that hold water following rainstorms but usually dry up later in the growing season. These unique, ephemeral wetlands occur in arid and semi -arid environments around the world, but nowhere more abundantly than on the tablelands of the Southern Great Plains of North America.