Date of this Version
2013 Secretive Marshbird Survey of Nebraska’s Eastern Saline Wetlands.
Nebraska’s eastern saline wetlands (ESW) harbor a unique community of organisms and are considered critically endangered (LaGrange 2007). The ESW ecological community type is one of the rarest and most imperiled in the state (Clausen et al. 1989). ESW occur in floodplain swales and depressions within the Salt and Rock Creek watersheds in Lancaster and southern Saunders counties. ESW are temporarily and seasonally flooded palustrine wetlands (Gersib and Steinauer 1991, Gilbert et al. 1994). These wetlands are characterized by saline mineral soils and salt-tolerant vegetation (LaGrange et al. 2003). Their salinity originates from groundwater passing through an underlying rock formation containing salts deposited by an ancient sea that once covered Nebraska (LaGrange 2007).
Nebraska’s ESW have been converted and degraded through commercial, residential, and agricultural development (Gersib and Steinauer 1991). ESW were estimated to once total approximately 20,000 acres; approximately 4,000 acres remain today (LaGrange et al. 2003). The remaining saline wetlands are a high conservation priority because they provide habitat for a diversity of plant and wildlife species, including the state and federally endangered Salt Creek Tiger Beetle (Cicindela nevadica lincolniana) and state endangered Saltwort (Salicornia rubra; LaGrange et al. 2003).