Survey Manual

120.7 - Office of the Associate Director for Ecosystems

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 resources. 


OPR:  Office of Ecosystems

Instructions: This is a new chapter.

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 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, DOI 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 biologists.  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.  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. 

C.  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 land managers, and is coordinated with other science and natural resource agencies.  The Ecosystems Programs include the following:

(1)  Fisheries Program.  The Fisheries Program focuses on the study of aquatic organisms and their habitats from the molecular genetics level to species and population interactions with the environment.  The Program supports investigations of aquatic pathogens, invertebrates, mussels, fishes, and the unique role of aquatic communities in ecosystems.  It provides scientific information to natural resource managers and decision makers in areas such as management of species of concern, fish passage, ecological flows, and the impact of land change such as energy development on aquatic resources.

(2)  Environments Program.  The Environments Program supports research studies to provide the basic science needed to understand factors that control ecosystem structure, function, dynamics, condition, and provision of goods and services in the context of linkages and interactions with the surrounding landscape.  The research results are used to model and predict future changes to ecosystems, understand how external stressors such as land-use change and climate change will affect ecosystem resiliency, and to develop management alternatives in the face of stressors.  Ecosystem science is also used to restore degraded landscapes and freshwater systems, sustain plants and animals, and find means to adapt management to global change.

(3)  Invasive Species Program.  The Invasive Species Program supports methodologies, research, and investigations to address threats to ecological systems and native species due to the introduction and spread of invasive species.  The research results provide information on early detection and assessment of newly established invaders, monitoring of invading populations, improving understanding of the ecology of invaders and factors in the resistance of habitats to invasion, and development and testing of prevention and alternative management and control approaches.

(4)  Status and Trends Program.  The Status and Trends Program supports the measurement, assessment, prediction, and reporting on the status and trends of living resources and the habitats on which they depend.  The goals of the Program are to facilitate integrated monitoring to describe and track the Nation’s plants, animals, and landscapes; to develop and evaluate inventory and monitoring methods, tools, and techniques to measure biological status and trends; to collect, archive, and share raw and value-added monitoring data in cooperation with partners to determine, report, and project the status and trends of biological resources; and to produce and provide information, analyses and reports that are responsive to the needs of the scientific community and other key stakeholders including land and resource managers, policymakers, and the general public.

(5)  Wildlife Program.  The Wildlife Program supports research on factors influencing the distribution, abundance, and condition of wildlife populations and their associated ecosystems.  The Program includes a broad range of wildlife species and habitat questions, focusing on Federal trust species, including federally threatened/endangered and candidate species, migratory birds, marine mammals, interjurisdictional and migratory species, and species of interest to Federal land and resource management bureaus.  The Program strives to understand drivers influencing the condition of wildlife species, producing scientific information useful to natural resource managers and decision makers.

/s/ Suzette M. Kimball                                                           October 16, 2015
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Suzette M. Kimball                                                                 Date


Acting Director, U.S. Geological Survey