Quantifying co-benefits of water quality conservation practices for wildlife of greatest conservation need in Iowa

Sep 2022


The intensification and homogenization of agricultural land use across the Upper Midwest has precipitated urgent challenges for both water and wildlife and is the focus of extensive governmental investment in research and conservation. Addressing these challenges has been the focus of interstate collaborations among agencies and organizations working largely in separate spheres to address either wildlife or water conservation. The lack of explicit coordination between planning and implementation strategies for water and wildlife conservation is a potential liability and shortcoming of working-lands conservation paradigms. Thus, research to integrate priorities for each domain would be mutually advantageous and could lead to synergistic improvements along shared priorities, improved government efficiencies and broader public support and engagement for nutrient reduction efforts.


This research seeks to advance collaboration by building bridges between water conservation and wildlife conservation practices in working landscapes by modeling impacts of watershed conservation practice implementation on wildlife species of greatest conservation need. Results should help compel additional engagement in nutrient reduction practices among policy makers, landowners and citizens interested in wildlife conservation in working landscapes and build bridges within the broader conservation community between wildlife and water quality practitioners.


Researchers will pursue three main approaches:

1) Evaluate intersections between Iowa Species of Greatest Conservation Need (SGCN) and nutrient reduction practices used in Iowa on the basis of a comprehensive literature review; 
2) Develop species distribution models for SGCN in Iowa likely to respond to nutrient reduction practices; and 
3) Use the Agricultural Conservation Planning Framework toolset to evaluate changes in nutrient export, conservation costs and SGCN species occurrence in response to implementation of water quality conservation practices sited within watersheds.

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