Fort Collins Science Center

Ecosystem Change and Disturbance

The Ecosystem Dynamics Branch offers an interdisciplinary team of talented and creative scientists with expertise in biology, botany, ecology, geology, biogeochemistry, physical sciences, geographic information systems, and remote-sensing, for tackling complex questions about natural resources. As demand for natural resources increases, the issues facing natural resource managers, planners, policy makers, industry, and private landowners are increasing in spatial and temporal scope, often involving entire regions, multiple jurisdictions, and long timeframes. Needs for addressing these issues include: a better understanding of biotic and abiotic ecosystem components and their complex interactions; the ability to easily monitor, assess, and visualize the spatially complex movements of animals, plants, water, and elements across highly variable landscapes; and the techniques for accurately predicting both immediate and long-term responses of system components. The overall objectives of our research are to provide the knowledge, tools, and techniques needed by the U.S. Department of the Interior, and other agencies.

Filter Total Items: 16
Date published: July 6, 2018
Status: Active

Human Dimensions of Ecological Drought

Ecological impacts of drought have been rarely considered compared to agricultural or municipal water supply effects.

Date published: June 21, 2018
Status: Active

Economics of Wildland Fire

In recent decades, wildfires have increased in size and intensity, and the fire season has lengthened. This and other factors have increased wildfire suppression costs and risks to human health and safety. SEA economists investigate numerous aspects of wildland fire, its impacts, and how to mitigate the risk wildfire poses to people, resources, and property.

Date published: May 23, 2018
Status: Active

Agricultural Practices

Environmentally responsible land management has direct and indirect implications for wildlife, water quality, and air quality in terrestrial, aquatic, and marine ecosystems far beyond their extent. Agricultural land use accounts for over 50 percent of the surface area of the contiguous United States. Public recognition that social, aesthetic, and recreational values enhance the traditional...

Contacts: Mark Vandever
Date published: January 17, 2017
Status: Active

Ecological Drought in Riparian Ecosystems

Drought is killing riparian trees along many rivers in the western United States. The cause can be increasing temperature or decreasing precipitation, flow or water-table elevation. At multiple locations we are relating water availability to physiological measurements of tree survival and water stress, such as ring width, carbon stable isotope ratio and branch hydraulic conductivity. These...

Date published: December 7, 2016
Status: Active

Assessing Threats to Conservation Priority Areas in State Wildlife Action Plans

States across the U.S. have developed Wildlife Action Plans, with the purpose of preventing future listings under the federal Endangered Species Act. Habitat loss and fragmentation are key threats to wildlife in the U.S., and housing development is a major driver of both. USGS is working to quantify the vulnerability of and threat to priority areas in State Wildlife Action Plans from future...

Date published: December 7, 2016
Status: Active

Higher and Farther: Patterns of Development within Protected Areas

There is a well-known bias in the location of protected areas both within the US and globally. Lands protected for conservation tend to be located on less productive soils at high elevations far from cities. USGS is exploring whether this ‘high and far’ paradigm applies within protected areas as well. That is, does human modification within lands that already have some degree of protection,...

Date published: December 7, 2016
Status: Active

Developing Broad Scale Indicators for Monitoring Ecosystems and Landscapes

Many issues currently facing the Bureau of Land Management (BLM) and other large land managers span large landscapes, including sage-grouse conservation, wildfires, and energy development. Such challenges involve changes at both local and broad scales, but monitoring has typically focused at the scale of individual sites. The USGS is working to develop broad-scale indicators for monitoring...

Date published: November 7, 2016
Status: Completed

Agriculture from 'Landsat Imagery: A Unique Resource'

Landsat satellites provide high-quality, multi-spectral imagery of the surface of the Earth. These moderate-resolution, remotely sensed images are not just pictures, but contain many layers of data collected at different points along the visible and invisible light spectrum. 

Date published: October 28, 2016
Status: Active

Energy Development and Changing Land Uses

Applied research and integrated regional assessments emphasize spatially explicit analyses of ecosystem components affected by energy development and land-use change in the western United States. Topics include sagebrush-steppe ecology; sagebrush habitat assessments; the effets of human activities (including energy development, transportation, and recreation) on habitats and wildlife behavior...

Date published: October 13, 2016
Status: Active

Contaminant Biology: Stable Isotope Applications

Environmental contaminants of natural and anthropogenic origin represent a major stressor to ecosystems, including human and wildlife populations.

Date published: October 12, 2016

Landscape and Habitat Assessment

A central focus of this program is to conduct multi-scale assessments in order to develop related geospatial decision-support tools and methods. The program includes synthesizing broad-scale datasets and developing innovative approaches to assess the vulnerability and resilience of wildlife habitats and ecosystems, relative to land management decisions and ecosystem stressors on Department of...

Date published: September 23, 2016
Status: Active

The New Mexico Landscapes Field Station

The New Mexico Landscapes Field Station is a place-based, globally-connected, ecological research group that studies and interprets ecosystem and wildlife dynamics, working with land managers and community leaders to deliver solutions that foster the linked health of human and natural systems.

Our partnerships, and co-location, with land management agencies provide us with opportunities...

Contacts: Ernie Valdez, Ph.D., Ellis Q Margolis, Ph.D., Kay Beeley, Manuel Lopez