Western Ecological Research Center (WERC)

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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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News

WERC surveying sea otters
September 29, 2017

According to data released Friday by the U.S. Geological Survey and partners, the three-year average of the total counts of southern sea otters was down from last year’s high, although it still exceeded the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service’s delisting threshold for a second straight year.

Illustration of Fijian Gau iguanas.
June 6, 2017

Researchers from the U.S. Geological Survey, Taronga Conservation Society Australia, The National Trust of Fiji and NatureFiji-MareqetiViti have discovered a new species of banded iguana.

WERC Caspian Tern Chicks with Decoy Bird
April 6, 2017

SAN FRANCISCO BAY, CA — Audubon magazine interviews USGS WERC wildlife biologist Dr. Alex Hartman on an ongoing effort to attract seabirds to newly-restored habitat in the Bay.

Publications

Year Published: 2017

An improved camera trap for amphibians, reptiles, small mammals, and large invertebrates

Camera traps are valuable sampling tools commonly used to inventory and monitor wildlife communities but are challenged to reliably sample small animals. We introduce a novel active camera trap system enabling the reliable and efficient use of wildlife cameras for sampling small animals, particularly reptiles, amphibians, small mammals and large...

Hobbs, Michael T.; Brehme, Cheryl S.
Hobbs, MT and CS Brehme. 2017. An improved camera trap for amphibians, reptiles, small mammals, and large invertebrates. PLoS ONE 12(10): e018502. doi: 10.1371/journal.pone.0185026

Year Published: 2017

Characterizing interactions between fire and other disturbances and their impacts on tree mortality in western U.S. Forests

Increasing evidence that pervasive warming trends are altering disturbance regimes and their interactions with fire has generated substantial interest and debate over the implications of these changes. Previous work has primarily focused on conditions that promote non-additive interactions of linked and compounded disturbances, but the spectrum of...

Kane, Jeffrey M.; Varner, J. Morgan; Metz, Margaret R.; van Mantgem, Phillip J.
Kane, JM, JM Varner, MR Metz, PJ van Mantgem. 2017. Characterizing interactions between fire and other disturbances and their impacts on tree mortality in western U.S. Forests. Forest Ecology and Management 405: 188-199. doi: 10.1016/j.foreco.2017.09.037

Year Published: 2017

Epicormic resprouting in fire-prone ecosystems

Many plants resprout from basal buds after disturbance, and this is common in shrublands subjected to high-intensity fires. However, resprouting after fire from epicormic (stem) buds is globally far less common. Unlike basal resprouting, post-fire epicormic resprouting is a key plant adaptation for retention of the arborescent skeleton after fire...

Pausas, Juli G.; Keeley, Jon E.
Pausas, JG and JE Keeley. 2017. Epicormic Resprouting in Fire-Prone Ecosystems. Trends in Plant Sciences. doi: 10.1016/j.tplants.2017.08.010