Western Ecological Research Center (WERC)


The Western Ecological Research Center (WERC) is a USGS Ecosystems Mission Area operation serving primarily California and Nevada. WERC scientists work closely with Federal, State, academic, and other collaborators to address a diverse array of high-profile topics. Topics include research on effects of wildfire, sea level rise, drought, energy development and more on federal Trust species.

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Date published: November 18, 2021

Research Spotlight: New Study Identifies Effective Under-Road Passage Designs for California Tiger Salamanders

A new study by USGS researchers and partners investigated how California tiger salamanders in Stanford, California interacted with different types of barrier fencing while migrating to their annual breeding site and whether they were able to find and use an under-road tunnel passage system.

Date published: October 13, 2021

Wildfire Smoke Disrupts Bird Migration in the West

SACRAMENTO, Calif. – Early fall wildfires in the western states and the smoke they generate pose a risk to birds migrating in the Pacific Flyway, according to a new study by the U.S. Geological Survey. GPS data from the 2020 wildfire season indicate that at least some migratory birds may take longer and use more energy to avoid wildfire smoke.

Date published: October 5, 2021

Research Spotlight: High Salinity and Limited Wetlands Reduce Duckling Habitat for Waterfowl

A new publication by USGS scientists examines wetland availability and salinity in Suisun Marsh, with particular focus on the implications for young ducklings with low salinity tolerance. The results indicated that a majority of wetland area in Suisun Marsh has salinity concentrations high enough to have detrimental effects on duckling growth and survival.


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Year Published: 2021

Small shorebirds feast on green slime to fuel their long migration

Shorebirds wade in shallow waters along shorelines searching for food. More than a million shorebirds visit the San Francisco Estuary each year during their migration to feast on the insects, worms, clams, and crabs that live on or under the surface of the sand or mud. The abundant food in the Estuary provides shorebirds with the energy they need...

Hall, Laurie Anne; De La Cruz, Susan E. W.; Woo, Isa; Kuwae, Tomohiro; Nelson, David Mcgovern; Takekawa, John Y.

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Year Published: 2021

Enhancing marsh elevation using sediment augmentation: A case study from southern California, USA

Tidal marshes are an important component of estuaries that provide habitat for fish and wildlife, protection from flooding, recreation opportunities, and can improve water quality. Critical to maintaining these functions is vertical accretion, a key mechanism by which tidal marshes build elevation relative to local sea level. The beneficial use of...

Sloane, Evyan Borgnis; Thorne, Karen M.; Whitcraft, Christine R; Touchstone, Victoria

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Year Published: 2021

Protocol for route restoration in California’s desert renewable energy conservation plan area

In the deserts of the Southwestern United States, increased off-highway vehicle use can lead to widespread vehicular damage to desert ecosystems. As the popularity and intensity of vehicle use on public lands continues, the Bureau of Land Management (BLM) is challenged to manage the routes used by recreationists while minimizing activity beyond...

Esque, Todd C.; Jackson, Ka-Voka R.; Rice, Alexandrea M.; Childers, Jeffery K.; Woods, Caroline S.; Fesnock-Parker, Amy; Johnson, Andrew C.; Price, Lauren J.; Forgrave, Kristin E.; Scoles-Sciulla, Sara J.; DeFalco, Lesley A.
Esque, T.C., Jackson, K.R., Rice, A.M., Childers, J.K., Woods, C.S., Fesnock-Parker, A., Johnson, A.C., Price, L.J., Forgrave, K.E., Scoles-Sciulla, S.J., and DeFalco, L.A., 2021, Protocol for route restoration in California’s desert renewable energy conservation plan area: U.S. Geological Survey Techniques and Methods 2-A17, 60 p., https://doi.org/10.3133/tm2A17.