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PLEASE NOTE: The schedule posted here is as of 1/25/16, and is subject to change. Please check back for updates.
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Tuesday, January 26 • 11:20am - 11:40am
Plowprint: Tracking Cumulative Loss of Grassland To Cropland Across The Plains and Prairie Potholes Landscape Conservation Cooperative

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AUTHORS: Jeff Nelson*, Northern Great Plains Program World Wildlife Fund, Sarah Olimb, Northern Great Plains Program World Wildlife Fund, Anne Gage, Northern Great Plains Program World Wildlife Fund

ABSTRACT: The grasslands of North America are being converted to cropland to provide food and fuel to a growing global population. Tracking this loss over time has been the focus of a variety of studies, with most authors directing their attention to where loss is occurring over a specific time period, and attempting to most accurately define which parcels of land are switching land covers. We took a different approach in the Plains and Prairie Potholes region and beyond. Our methodology, which lead to a product that we call the “plowprint”, uses the National Agricultural Statistics Service’s Cropland Data Layer to track cumulative loss of grassland to cropland over the period from 2008 to present. Our methodology uses a rule that allows pixels to be added to the plowprint, but never deleted. Thus, once a pixel has been converted to cropland, that pixel is then considered part of the crop base within the study area. Our analyses suggest that 2.9 million acres of intact habitat are being lost annually within the Plains and Prairie Potholes LCC landscape. This loss is not occurring at equal rates across the ecoregion, with some counties experiencing higher than average rates of loss, while others see relatively low rates of loss. Remaining intact habitat, then, is defined as being habitat that has not been plowed since 2008, but could be in non-native cover or potentially plowed before this time period. This study represents a useful addition to the literature that tracks grassland loss to row crops during specific time periods by helping to define the “best of what’s left” for prioritization by various agencies and groups working throughout the Great Plains.

Tuesday January 26, 2016 11:20am - 11:40am EST
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