Water Resources Research Act Program

Details for Project ID 2021IN001AIS

Freshwater Eco-Hydrological Connectivity : A Transport Network For Invasive Species

Institute: Indiana
USGS Grant Number:
Year Established: 2021 Start Date: 2021-09-01 End Date: 2024-08-31
Total Federal Funds: $244,638 Total Non-Federal Funds: $244,647

Principal Investigators: Antoine Aubeneau

Abstract: Despite their crucial hydrological, biogeochemical and ecological services, wetlands continue to disappear. Human activities contribute to wetland losses and degradation. A disproportionate fraction of endangered or threatened species are wetland obligate. Conversely, wetlands are susceptible to invasive species that colonize surface freshwater networks. Wetlands are sentinels keeping watch on the broader landscape health. Wetlands store water and thus contribute to control floods and purify water. Wetlands are scattered patchy habitats, networked together by flows of water and materials. Aquatic animals and plants disperse and assemble in metapopulations embedded on the surface freshwater matrix. Although it is widely recognized that wetland connectivity is important for hydrology and biodiversity, conservation strategies and policies targeting wetland habitat patterns and dispersal network properties are still lacking. We propose to conduct research in the Upper Mississippi Basin to 1) identify all the wetlands in the landscape and their dynamic delineation, 2) identify the keystone habitats that could confer resistance and resilience to nonnative plant species and 3) ground truth the predictions of our dynamic ecohydrological model. Invasive plants are good indicators of stress or declining ecological condition and we hypothesize that degraded freshwater networks in intensely farmed areas will be more susceptible to alien plants than more robust and complex networks in the more pristine regions.