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Researchers Study Agriculture’s Impact on Wetlands
Researchers at the University of South Dakota said a multi-year project north of Sioux Falls, South Dakota, appears to show a reduction in plant and animal diversity in wetlands that collect water runoff from agricultural land.

Jake Kerby, Ph.D., an associate professor in USD’s biology department, and a team of three graduate and eight undergraduate students have been surveying 18 different wetlands over the past four years. They and other researchers regularly check the health of plants, amphibians, insects and fish to determine the potential impact of pesticides and fertilizers over time.

“We can see some interesting trends,” Kerby said. “If you're introducing things like fertilizers from the fields, the nitrogen and the phosphorus have big inputs into the systems, which changes a lot of the aquatic vegetation, and that works up the food chain. So things that are eating that vegetation are affected and things that are eating them. You can get a lot of different parts of the wildlife impacted by even just small chemicals leaching into the system.”


 
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