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U.S. Geological Survey - Ecosystems

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Scientists in the USGS Ecosystem Mission Area conduct research and monitoring on freshwater, terrestrial, and marine ecosystems and the fish and wildlife within them. Healthy ecosystems provide our society with essential ecosystem services, such as crop pollination, water and air purification, harvestable populations of fish and wildlife, soil replenishment, pest control, and nutrient cycling.

The Ecosystem Mission Area is strongly committed to achieving objectives through partnerships. Federal and state natural resource managers use USGS scientific information to protect, restore and enhance our natural resources, and ensure that healthy ecosystems, and the services they provide, will be here for generations to come.

An important focus of our research and monitoring is meeting the scientific needs of Interior resource management bureaus. Our studies support many of their needs for biological and ecological information, including development of annual waterfowl regulations, research leading to better land protection strategies for national parks, and investigations seeking optimal water control practices for enhancement of fisheries.


The Ecosystems Mission Area (ECO) works with others to provide the scientific understanding and technologies needed to support the sound management and conservation of our Nation's biological resources. The following general principles guide the implementation of our mission and form the basis of our strategic planning:

  • Ecosystems Mission Area develops scientific and statistically reliable methods and protocols to assess the status and trends of the Nation's biological resources.
  • Ecosystems Mission Area utilizes tools from the biological, physical, and social sciences to understand the causes of biological and ecological trends and to predict the ecological consequences of management practices.
  • Ecosystems Mission Area leads in the development and use of the technologies needed to synthesize, analyze, and disseminate biological and ecological information.
  • Ecosystems Mission Area strives for quality, integrity, and credibility of its research and technology by constantly improving its scientific programs through internal quality control, external peer review, and competitive funding.
  • Ecosystems Mission Area enters into partnerships with scientific collaborators to produce high-quality scientific information and partnerships with the users of scientific information to ensure this information's relevance and application to real problems.
  • Ecosystems Mission Area provides reliable scientific information to all American citizens while recognizing a special obligation to serve the biological information needs of Department of the Interior bureaus.
  • Ecosystems Mission Area strives for a diverse, safe, healthy, and productive workforce, and provides opportunities for the continuing education and professional development of its employees.


1896 - Name changed to the Division of Biological Survey.
1905 - Division elevated to the Bureau of Biological Survey (BBS).
1939 - BBS became part of the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service at the Department of the Interior.
1993 - National Biological Service (NBS) was formed.
1996 - NBS moved into the USGS and became the Biological Resources Division
2010 – A USGS realignment established the Ecosystems Mission Area, which comprised the Fisheries, Wildlife, Status and Trends, Environments and Invasive Species Programs and the Cooperative Research Units, all former programs of the BRD. Contaminant Biology moved to the Environmental Health Mission Area. Biological Information Management and Delivery moved to the Core Science Systems Mission Area.

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