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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Date published: May 14, 2020

Remembering Philip Anthony Medica, Desert Tortoise Researcher and USGS Scientist Emeritus

Philip (Phil) Anthony Medica, USGS Scientist Emeritus, passed away on May 3. He is remembered as a dear friend and colleague and as a scientist who made substantial contributions to desert tortoise research and conservation.

Date published: April 27, 2020

California Red-legged Frogs Reintroduced to Historic Range in Southern California

In a historic and exciting first, the federally threatened California red-legged frog, the inspiration for Mark Twain’s short story, "The Celebrated Jumping Frog of Calaveras County," has been successfully reintroduced to southern California by USGS scientists and collaborators.  

Date published: March 13, 2020

Learning From Real-World Experience to Understand Renewable Energy Impacts to Wildlife

A comprehensive analysis of how renewable energy facilities affect wildlife could inform efforts to predict and reduce these impacts. A team of researchers was asked to gain a better understanding of the actual environmental impacts of renewable energy generation on sensitive species and habitats in California. 

Publications

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Year Published: 2020

Using remotely sensed data to map Joshua Tree distributions at Naval Air Weapons Station China Lake, California, 2018

Species distribution models (SDMs) that are derived through inference have been used to provide important insights toward species distributions. Their inferences can be robust in relation to known presences, but SDMs have error rates that cannot be quantified with certainty. For large plant species with unique signatures and in sparsely vegetated...

Esque, Todd C.; Baird, Patrick E.; Chen, Felicia C.; Housman, David C.; Holton, Tom J.
Esque, T.C., Baird, P.E., Chen, F.C., Housman, D., and Holton, J.T., 2020, Using remotely sensed data to map Joshua Tree distributions at Naval Air Weapons Station China Lake, California, 2018: U.S. Geological Survey Scientific Investigations Report 2020–5053, 13 p., https://doi.org/10.3133/sir20205053.

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Year Published: 2020

Black abalone surveys at Naval Base Ventura County, San Nicolas Island, California: 2019, annual report

The U.S. Geological Survey Western Ecological Research Center’s Santa Cruz Field Station, Santa Cruz, California, has been funded by the U.S. Navy to continue monitoring a suite of intertidal black abalone sites at San Nicolas Island, California. The nine rocky intertidal sites were established in 1980 by Glenn VanBlaricom (then of the U.S. Fish...

Kenner, Michael C.
Kenner, M.C., 2020, Black abalone surveys at Naval Base Ventura County, San Nicolas Island, California: 2019, annual report: U.S. Geological Survey Open-File Report 2020–1047, 41 p., https://doi.org/10.3133/ofr20201047.

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Year Published: 2020

19-day-old greater sage-grouse chick killed by Great Basin gopher snake

Despite extensive range overlap between Great Basin gopher snakes (Pituophis catenifer deserticola) and Greater Sage-Grouse (Centrocercus urophasianus) within sagebrush ecosystems, there are few documented predator–prey interactions between these species. Although gopher snakes have been observed preying on nests of other prairie grouse, studies...

McIntire, Sarah E; Rabon, Jordan C; Coates, Peter S.; Ricca, Mark A.; Johnson, Tracey N