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TitleDeclining sand dune activity in the southern Canadian prairies: historical context, controls and ecosystem implications
AuthorHugenholtz, C H; Bender, D; Wolfe, S AORCID logo
SourceAeolian Research vol. 2, 2-3, 2010 p. 71-82,
Alt SeriesEarth Sciences Sector, Contribution Series 20090325
PublisherElsevier BV
Mediapaper; on-line; digital
File formatpdf
ProvinceAlberta; Manitoba; Saskatchewan
NTS62; 72; 82H; 82I; 82P
Lat/Long WENS-114.0000 -96.0000 52.0000 49.0000
Subjectssedimentology; surficial geology/geomorphology; Nature and Environment; dunes; eolian deposits; glacial deposits; Holocene; climatic fluctuations; vegetation; sands; sediment transport; erosion; paleoenvironment; ecosystems; biotic diversification; Plants; Cenozoic; Quaternary
Illustrationslocation maps; photographs; graphs
ProgramClimate Change Geoscience
Released2010 11 01
AbstractSandhills are islands of biodiversity in the southern Canadian prairies that sustain habitat for many rare and endangered species. These unique areas consist of large expanses of dune fields now mostly stabilized by grassland vegetation. Historically, the number of active dunes has decreased significantly due to vegetation stabilization, resulting in a dramatic decline of open-sand habitat for a variety of dunedependent species. Without a certain level of wind erosion, opportunities for establishment of earlystage, species-rich vegetation types are diminished and open-sand habitat decreases by encroachment of the surrounding grassland vegetation. The current trend of dune stabilization, however, implies that wind erosion is decreasing, thereby threatening the continued existence of a variety of dune-dependent plants, arthropods and vertebrates, as well as other less-specialized species that benefit indirectly from these habitats. By reviewing factors contributing to the historical decline of active dunes, as well as the ecological implications of dune stabilization, the aim of this paper is to establish the biophysical context for new land management strategies that conserve valued landscape components, such as active dunes, and the processes therein. As dune stabilization continues management interventions will be required to sustain or re-establish open sand and the species that rely on these habitats.

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