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: May 10, 2021

Animal Crossing: New Research Guides Efforts to Protect California’s Amphibians and Reptiles from Road Danger

Roads can be dangerous for California’s reptiles and amphibians, but a five-year study and new video show that there are effective strategies to help these animals cross roads safely.

Date published: April 15, 2021

Biofilm is on the Kids’ Menu, and Other Lessons from the Western Sandpipers of San Francisco Bay

USGS scientists are studying what western sandpipers in San Francisco Bay eat to fuel up for their migration. This research can inform conservation and management efforts for this tiny shorebird.

Date published: March 30, 2021

New Research Highlights Decline of Greater Sage-Grouse in the American West, Provides Roadmap to Aid Conservation

RESTON, Va. – Greater sage-grouse populations have declined significantly over the last six decades, with an 80% rangewide decline since 1965 and a nearly 40% decline since 2002, according to a new report by the U.S. Geological Survey. Although the overall trend clearly shows continued population declines over the entire range of the species, rates of change vary regionally. 


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Year Published: 2021

Changes in the abundance and distribution of waterfowl wintering in the Central Valley of California, 1973–2000

The Central Valley of California is one of the most important areas for wintering waterfowl in the world and the focus of extensive conservation efforts to mitigate for historical losses and counter continuing stressors to habitats. To guide conservation, we analyzed trends in the abundance and distribution (spatiotemporal abundance patterns) of...

Fleskes, Joseph P.; Casazza, Michael L.; Overton, Cory T.; Matchett, Elliott L.; Yee, Julie L.

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Year Published: 2021

Wildfires and global change

No single factor produces wildfires; rather, they occur when fire thresholds (ignitions, fuels, and drought) are crossed. Anomalous weather events may lower these thresholds and thereby enhance the likelihood and spread of wildfires. Climate change increases the frequency with which some of these thresholds are crossed, extending the duration of...

Pausas, Juli G.; Keeley, Jon

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Year Published: 2021

Distribution and demography of coastal cactus wrens (Campylorhynchus brunneicapillus) in southern San Diego County, California—2020 data summary

Executive SummarySurveys for coastal Cactus Wren (Campylorhynchus brunneicapillus) were done in 378 established plots in southern San Diego County in 2020, encompassing three genetic clusters (Otay, Lake Jennings, and Sweetwater/Encanto genetic clusters). Two surveys were completed at each plot between March 1 and July 31. Cactus Wrens were...

Lynn, Suellen; Kus, Barbara E.
Lynn, S., and Kus, B.E., 2021, Distribution and demography of coastal cactus wrens (Campylorhynchus brunneicapillus) in southern San Diego County, California—2020 data summary: U.S. Geological Survey Data Series 1138, 12 p., https://doi.org/10.3133/ds1138.