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Climate and Land-use Controls on Prairie Lakes

Impacts of climate change cross the Canadian prairies.

The semi-arid climate and flat relief result in large endorheic (interior) drainage basins across the Canadian prairies. Due to hydrologic / climate variability and agricultural land-use lakes are highly sensitive to desiccation, salinization and eutrophication. Decadal-scale analyses of water quality and food-web composition of 20 prairie lakes indicated that 1) water availability is largely dependent on winter precipitation, 2) food-web composition is predominantly determined during drought intervals, and 3) controls of fish assemblages have changed from elevated salinity to winter kill due to recent changes in land-use intensity. Current research is evaluating the potential impacts of future climate change to help develop adaptive management practices.

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