The Waubesa Wetlands are a 150-hectare State Natural Area located on the southwestern toe of Lake Waubesa in Dane County, Wisconsin. These wetlands, often classified as a “Living Museum", are the most studied wetlands in the state. The foundational novelty of the wetlands emanates from their unique hydrogeology. Positioned within an artesian basin, springs from two separate underlying aquifers provide cool, clean water to create one of the most diverse wetland communities in southern Wisconsin. Because of their unique ecological and cultural significance, the Waubesa Wetlands are one of 100 wetlands acknowledged by the Wisconsin Wetlands Association. The Society of Wetland Scientists also includes the Wetlands on their Wetlands of Distinction list.
As urban and agricultural land use in the watershed changes, it is important to determine how future scenarios could affect the ecological integrity of the Waubesa Wetlands. Thus, there is a need to understand the baseline conditions of the wetlands—both in terms of the ecosystem services provided and the water quality of inputs—prior to future land use change in the area.