Survey Manual

120.7 - Office of the Associate Director for Ecosystems


Date: 12/29/2020 

OPR: Office of the Associate Director for Ecosystems 

Instruction: This revises the chapter dated October 16, 2015 to reflect current organizational structure.


1.  General Functions. The U.S. Geological Survey (USGS), Office of the Associate Director for Ecosystems, provides executive leadership for reliable, impartial scientific information to land managers, particularly in the Department of the Interior, and assists in the application of information needed to support sound management and conservation of the Nation’s biological and other natural resources. The primary means of gathering this information is through the use of scientific methods applied to monitoring, modeling, tool development, and experimentation. 


2.  Associate Director for Ecosystems. The Associate Director exercises the authority delegated by the USGS Director to provide leadership and national guidance for the establishment of ecosystem programs and priorities. The Associate Director provides executive direction and oversight to ensure effective and efficient program planning, management, and execution of the Bureau’s ecosystem programs, including the development of methods and tools, research, and quality assurance. Responsibilities are shared with a Deputy Associate Director. The Associate Director and Deputy Associate Director are assisted in the development and implementation of a national ecosystem science program by the following senior management team: 


A.  Chief,Cooperative Research Units (CRUs). The Chief of the CRUs serves as the national program lead for work conducted by the CRU network across the United States. Each CRU represents a partnership among the USGS, a host university, Department of the Interior bureaus, the Wildlife Management Institute, and State Fish and Wildlife agencies working to address national, regional, and local biological research needs to fill gaps in fish and wildlife management information, and to ensure availability of a trained and diverse corps of fish and wildlife professionals. The CRUs also provide technical assistance and training to Federal and State personnel and other resource managers. Collaborations among multiple CRUs and partners are formed to address landscape scale science needs. 


B.  Chief,National Climate Adaptation Science Center (NCASC). The Chief of the National Climate Adaptation Science Center leads the NCASCs in providing research to understand how climate impacts fish, wildlife and their habitat and works with natural resource management agencies to integrate climate impacts into adaptation planning.  This program works collaboratively with host research institutions to provide foundational and applied climate impact and adaptation science and serves as an interface between University, Federal and State based researchers, land managers, and front-line stewards of natural and cultural resources. 


C.  Senior Science Advisor. The Senior Science Advisor serves as the scientific lead for developing broad and inclusive research programs in the Ecosystems Mission Area to address the most pressing resource management issues facing the Department of the Interior land management bureaus. The Senior Science Advisor focuses on issues that transect current science programs and activities throughout the USGS and the Department of the Interior, especially those agency activities that address pending high-profile management decisions such as Endangered Species Act (ESA) listing, permitting, energy development, and climate change.  


D.  Ecosystems Program Coordinators. The Ecosystems Program Coordinators are responsible for program planning, budget development, policy, and program evaluation for line-item programs within the Ecosystems Mission Area. The Program Coordinators develop strategic program plans; coordinate programmatic activities within and outside the USGS to ensure broad participation in interdisciplinary studies; and conduct program reviews of current scientific projects to ensure that science is relevant to national objectives, meets the needs of natural resource managers, and is coordinated with other science and natural resource agencies. The Ecosystems Programs include the following: 


(1)  Species Management. The Species Management Research Program oversees science targeting management questions about species biology and species stressors, and the effects of natural and man-made disturbances and activities on species and their populations. By working with natural resource managers to understand information needs, the program produces research and decision-support tools that help managers anticipate, prevent, or respond to natural and man-made stressors and make better informed management decisions about hunting and fishing regulations, species and their populations, and land and water use. The program also provides targeted scientific information on at-risk species to inform their management and prevent the need for listing and inform the recovery of protected species to support delisting.   


(2)  Land Management Research Program. The Land Management Research Program provides science to understand natural and human influences on lands, waters, and ecosystems under management responsibility of Department of the Interior bureaus and other Federal, State, and tribal agencies. The program works with land managers to identify priority information needs, conducts research to predict and assess the potential effects of current and future land uses, and informs large-scale ecosystem restoration efforts. The program conducts research that helps land managers before, during, and after wildfires and provides science to understand coastal resilience and recovery after major storms. This information helps resource managers assess land uses, resolve and avoid resource management conflicts, enhance and maintain trust lands for future generations, and keep U.S. communities safe.  


(3)  Biological Threats and Invasive Species Program. The Biological Threats and Invasive Species Program develops decision-support tools and technologies to better and more efficiently manage invasive species and wildlife diseases. The program develops and improves the ability to detect, monitor, assess risks, and control nationally significant invasive species and wildlife diseases. The program aids partners to determine where to conduct surveillance (and which animals to target), which requires understanding invasive species and wildlife population dynamics and pathogen spread within their populations. The program supports whole-of-government efforts to respond to high impact and emerging infectious diseases and invasive species. Field and laboratory surveillance, cause of death determination and pathogen discovery, decision support tools, and research are leveraged with activities to support Federal responses to biological threats that impact public health and the agricultural economy. 


(4)  Climate Research and Development. The Climate Research and Development Program produces scientific data, analyses, and models needed to understand and anticipate how changing climate, ecosystems and land use affect our Nation’s natural resources. The program utilizes long-standing USGS expertise in geology, hydrology, paleoclimatology, ecology, and geography to: better understand physical, chemical, and biological components of the Earth system; document rates, causes, and consequences of changing climate, ecosystems, and land use; and assess the vulnerability and resilience of ecosystems and communities to change. The Climate Research and Development program provides the basic climate science necessary to assist natural managers in long term sustainable management planning.


(5)  Environmental Health. The Environmental Health Program brings together interdisciplinary teams of natural-science expertise and laboratory capabilities (hydrologists, geologists, chemists, toxicologists, ecologists, microbiologists, geospatial, process and statistical modelers) to address scientific understandings of environmental contaminants and how to mitigate health hazards if they exist. The program provides decision tools for situational awareness, planning, and forecasting that show how environmental contaminants originate and move through the environment to points of exposure, and whether or not they pose a health hazard.  



/s/ Katherine M. McCulloch                                              December 29, 2020

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Katherine M. McCulloch                                                                    Date 

Associate Director for Administration