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Title: A predictive model for seasonal pond counts in the United States Prairie Pothole Region using large-scale climate connections

The Prairie Pothole Region (PPR), located in central North America, is an important region hydrologically and ecologically. Millions of wetlands, many containing ponds, are located here, and they serve as habitats for various biota and breeding grounds for waterfowl. They also provide carbon sequestration, sediment and nutrient attenuation, and floodwater storage. Land modification and climate change are threatening the PPR, and water and wildlife managers face important conservation decisions due to these threats. We developed predictive, multisite forecasting models using canonical correlation analysis (CCA) for pond counts in the southeast PPR, the portion located within the United States, to aid in these important decisions. These forecast models predict spring (May) and summer (July) pond counts for each region (stratum) of the United States Fish and Wildlife Service’s pond and waterfowl surveys using a suite of antecedent, large-scale climate variables and indices including 500 millibar heights, sea surface temperatures (SSTs), and Palmer Drought Severity Index (PDSI). Models were developed to issue forecasts at the start of all preceding months beginning on March 1st. The models were evaluated for their performance in a predictive mode by leave-one-out cross-validation. The models exhibited good performance (Rvalues above 0.6 for May forecasts and 0.4 for July forecasts), with performance increasing as lead time decreased. This simple and versatile modeling approach offers a robust tool for efficient management and sustainability of ecology and natural resources. It demonstrates the ability to use large-scale climate variables to predict a local variable in a skilful way and could serve as an example to develop similar models for use in management and conservation decisions in other regions and sectors of the environment.

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Author(s) / Creator(s):
; ;
Publisher / Repository:
IOP Publishing
Date Published:
Journal Name:
Environmental Research Letters
Page Range / eLocation ID:
Article No. 044019
Medium: X
Sponsoring Org:
National Science Foundation
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