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Wetlands National Assessment

CEAP Wetlands Story Map

Summarizes the highlights of CEAP-Wetlands since its inception

The goal of the Wetlands Component of the Conservation Effects Assessment Project (CEAP) National Assessment is to develop a broad collaborative foundation that facilitates the production and delivery of scientific data, results, and information. Findings will routinely inform conservation decisions affecting wetland ecosystems and the services they provide, particularly focusing on the effects and effectiveness of USDA conservation practices and Farm Bill conservation programs on ecosystem services provided by wetlands in agricultural landscapes.


Five inter-related objectives have been developed:

Objective 1. Conduct regional collaborative investigations.

The investigations will provide data to:

  • Quantify wetland ecosystem services across an alteration gradient in agricultural landscapes,
  • Interpret effects and effectiveness of conservation practices and programs on ecosystem services,
  • Identify multiple-scale factors that influence the capacity for a wetland to provide an ecosystem service within a predicted range of estimates, and
  • Develop an integrated landscape model for simulation and forecasting capability as part of a National Wetlands Monitoring Process.

The following wetland ecosystem services represent examples of services that may be affected by implementation of conservation practices in agricultural landscapes and that are the focus of CEAP-Wetlands investigations:

  • Suitable fish and wildlife habitat
  • Pollutant management
  • Surface water runoff and floodwater management
  • Greenhouse gas emissions management
  • Water sustainability
  • Cultural benefits
Objective 2. Build science collaborations as the foundation of CEAP-Wetlands.
Objective 3. Document the scientific knowledge base and gaps in knowledge to understand the effects of conservation practices and programs on wetland ecosystem services.
Objective 4. Analyze NRCS conservation practice and program data to illustrate applications of data to support CEAP-Wetlands research and monitoring activities.
Objective 5. Develop a national wetlands monitoring process in collaboration with the NRI program to enhance decisions affecting the conservation of wetlands in agricultural landscapes.

Collaborative Studies

Eleven physiographic regions across the conterminous United States currently comprise the primary geographic focus of activities, particularly collaborative studies.

Click on the maps for larger images.
Thumbnail image of a color map showing the wetlands component assessment regions
Use this version to make black and white copies. Thumbnail image of a black and white map showing the wetlands component assessment regions


Reports for 7 of 11 regions identified for study have been released:

In addition, collaborative studies are underway in several of these regions to support development of simulation modeling and forecasting capability and investigate remote sensing technologies to capture model data (i.e., the Integrated Landscape Model, ILM) to quantify changes in ecosystem services as a result of conservation practices and programs, climate change and other drivers of ecosystem change. Currently, studies to develop the ILM are underway in the:

The U.S. Geological Survey is leading the research in the Prairie Pothole Region and Mississippi Alluvial Valley, and the USDA Agricultural Research Service Hydrology and Remote Sensing Lab is leading the Choptank River Watershed study. The goal is to produce modeling, forecasting and data capture capability as part of a nationally-extensive, regionally-specific monitoring process.

More information on the CEAP-Wetlands approach and timeframe of activities is available in the work plan

CEAP Wetlands Work Plan, October 2008 (PDF; 0.5 MB)

Study Plans and Reports

Bibliography/Literature Synthesis

Conservation of Wetlands in Agricultural Landscapes of the United States (Ecological Society of America supplemental issue) Summary (PDF, 2.5 MB)
This CEAP-Wetlands literature synthesis was published as the April 2011 supplemental issue of the journal Ecological Applications. The ten papers in the supplement document the scientific literature summarizing the effects of conservation practices and programs on agricultural wetlands in seven geographic regions of the United States:  Piedmont-Coastal Plain, Mississippi Alluvial Valley, the High Plains, Prairie Pothole Region, Glaciated Interior Plains, California’s Central Valley, and the Appalachian Region.

Wetlands in Agricultural Landscapes, September 2006.
This bibliography, developed by the Water Quality Information Center at the National Agricultural Library, is a guide to recent scientific literature covering environmental aspects of wetlands in agricultural landscapes. The purpose of the bibliography is to highlight research findings in two main areas: (1) the effect of conservation practices (and other agricultural activities) on wetlands and (2) the environmental effects of wetlands as conservation practices (including constructing and restoring wetlands). The bibliography will also facilitate the identification of knowledge gaps regarding effects of conservation practices on ecosystem services provided by wetlands in agricultural landscapes, and help identify where research is needed.


Joseph Prenger