Virginia and West Virginia Water Science Center

Biology and Ecosystems

We develop scientific and statistically reliable methods and protocols to assess the status and trends of biological resources. 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.

Filter Total Items: 24
Date published: April 25, 2019
Status: Active

River Continuum Concept Ecological Limit Functions for Fish and Benthic Data in Virginia

The ecological limit functions (ELF) developed in cooperation with the Virginia Department of Environmental Quality (DEQ) are a graphical representation of the current and historical state of aquatic biota in Virginia streams.  The goal of this study was to quantify the potential species richness and habitat response to flow alteration using available long-term ecological data. Fish and...

Contacts: Jennifer L Rapp, Robert Burgholzer, Joseph Kleiner
Date published: May 7, 2018
Status: Active

Monitoring Land-Surface Deformation in the Virginia Coastal Plain

Land-surface deformation in eastern Virginia is being monitored to evaluate effects of groundwater pumping and wastewater injection on land-surface movement and relative sea-level rise.

Date published: October 21, 2017
Status: Active

Modeling summer month hydrological drought probabilities in the United States using antecedent flow conditions

Climate change raises concern that risks of hydrological drought may be increasing. We estimate hydrological drought probabilities for rivers and streams in the United States (U.S.) using maximum likelihood logistic regression (MLLR). Streamflow data from winter months are used to estimate the chance of hydrological drought during summer months. Daily streamflow data collected from 9,144...

Date published: June 24, 2017
Status: Active

Hampton Roads Benchmark Monitoring Network

The southern Chesapeake Bay region is experiencing land subsidence along with rising sea levels, both of which can contribute to coastal flooding. The rates at which these two processes are occurring are not exactly known. Mapping of land elevation change requires ground-truth survey data at multiple locations that are accurate and precise. With the exception of a few CORS sites that have...

Date published: May 12, 2017
Status: Active

Climate Change in the Chesapeake Bay Watershed: Effects on Riverine Discharge, Ecosystems, and Water Quality

The 64,000-square mile watershed that drains to the Chesapeake Bay is highly populated and has diverse land use, including forested, agricultural, and urbanized areas. Increased precipitation in the eastern United States over the last 100 years has affected stream flow and thus the loading of pollutants delivered to the bay. Such pollutants as suspended sediment and dissolved phosphorus and...

Contacts: Karen C Rice
Date published: May 1, 2017
Status: Active

GIS-based landscape analysis to identify sources of endocrine disrupting chemicals

A key component to assessing the contaminant exposure pathways in streams and rivers of the Chesapeake Bay is using GIS-based landscape analysis to identify sources of endocrine disrupting chemicals. Municipal and industrial wastewater treatment plant (WWTP) discharges are potentially major sources of EDCs to streams, and therefore understanding the de facto wastewater reuse (represented as...

Date published: September 30, 2016
Status: Active

Appalachian Plateau Groundwater Availablity Study

Pennsylvanian- and Mississippian-age aquifers occupy approximately 86,000 square-miles in the Appalachian Plateaus Physiographic Province of Pennsylvania, Ohio, Maryland, Virginia, West Virginia, Kentucky, Tennessee, and Alabama. As one of several USGS Regional Groundwater Studies, the primary goal of this study is to provide a regional understanding of groundwater flow and availability in the...

Date published: September 30, 2016
Status: Active

Fairfax County Water Resources Monitoring Network

Hundreds of millions of dollars have been invested into the implementation of Best Management Practices (BMPs), with the explicit goal of improving water quality. Earlier research has demonstrated that these implemented BMPs are effective at the plot-scale and the field-scale; however, less information is available to document the effectiveness of these BMPs at the watershed scale - precisely...

Contacts: John D Jastram
Date published: September 30, 2016
Status: Active

Hydrologic and Water-Quality Factors Affecting Habitat Restoration and Management of the Great Dismal Swamp

The objectives of this study are to identify 1) the relations between water levels in the ditches and groundwater levels near the ditches and in the interior of the Blocks, 2) possible relations between groundwater levels and tree growth rates, and 3) current nutrient chemistry and possible nutrient transport pathways in these wetlands.

Date published: September 30, 2016
Status: Active

Hampton Roads Regional Water Quality Monitoring Program

In 2014, the U.S. Geological Survey partnered with the Hampton Roads Sanitation District (HRSD) in cooperation with the Hampton Roads Planning District Commission to implement a water-quality monitoring program with the goals of (1) collecting high quality nutrient and sediment data representative of the Coastal Plain, (2) computing loads that can be compared to those developed for the...

Contacts: Aaron J Porter
Date published: September 20, 2016
Status: Active

Clinch River Water Quality and Mussel Health

The Clinch and Powell Rivers flowing from southwestern Virginia through parts of East Tennessee (see figure) support unique and nationally significant endemic and endangered populations of fresh-water mussels and other aquatic fauna. Surveys of mussel and fish community structure over past decades have shown a pattern of decline throughout the Powell River and on parts of the upper Clinch that...

Contacts: Jennifer L Rapp
Date published: September 30, 2015
Status: Active

James River Research Corridor: Mountains to Sea Innovative Water Quality Network

This successful partnership brings together Randolph-Macon College (RMC), Washington and Lee University (W&L), and Virginia Commonwealth University (VCU), in partnership with the US Geological Survey (USGS) to foster growth in Science, Technology, Engineering, and Math (STEM) through summer student internship experience, awareness of USGS science in the class room, and increased...

Contacts: Jennifer L Rapp, Douglas L Moyer, Dr. Charles Gowan , Dr. Robert Humston, Dr. Paul Bukaveckas , Dr. Greg Garman