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.

Research Scientists

Research Scientists

WERC science is driven forward by our scientists and staff.

Research Scientists

Stories from the Field

Stories from the Field

Find out fun and interesting information uncovered from the field.

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Outreach

Outreach

Connecting science and the public.

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News

Map of California Ridgway’s rails habitat
February 2, 2017

A new study analyzes the genetic diversity and population structure of the California Ridgway’s rail, Rallus obsoletus, a state and federally-listed endangered bird. The results demonstrate that the so-called “rails” are experiencing negative genetic effects following more than a century of salt marsh habitat loss from agriculture, commercial salt production and urban development.

Clark's Grebe at Thermalito Afterbay, CA
January 24, 2017

A new study published in PLOS ONE demonstrates that current conservation planning efforts for waterbird habitat in the Central Valley can likely compensate for habitat loss through the middle of the century.

American mistletoe fruit and flowers
December 12, 2016

Perhaps some of you have already experienced a sweet smooch or two under the holiday mistletoe, enjoying this fairly old kissing ritual for people. While figuring prominently in ancient lore, mistletoe is important in other vital ways: it provides essential food, cover and nesting sites for an amazing number of critters. In fact, some animals couldn’t even survive without mistletoe.

Publications

Asynchrony in craniomandibular development and growth in Enhydra lutris nereis (Carnivora: Mustelidae): are southern sea otters born to bite?
Year Published: 2017

Asynchrony in craniomandibular development and growth in Enhydra lutris nereis (Carnivora: Mustelidae): are southern sea otters born to bite?

Weaning represents a major ontogenetic dietary shift in southern sea otters (Enhydra lutris nereis), as juveniles must transition from depending on mother’s milk to independently processing hard-shelled invertebrates. When the skulls of juveniles have reached sufficient maturity to transition to a durophagous diet remains to be investigated. Here, we conducted a comprehensive analysis of skull...

The role of salinity tolerance and competition in the distribution of an endangered desert salt marsh endemic
Year Published: 2017

The role of salinity tolerance and competition in the distribution of an endangered desert salt marsh endemic

Rare plants are often associated with distinctive soil types, and understanding why endemic species occur in unique environments is fundamental for their management. At Ash Meadows National Wildlife Refuge in southern Nevada, USA, we evaluated whether the limited distribution of endangered Amargosa niterwort (Nitrophila mohavensis) is explained by this species’ tolerance of saline soils on salt-...

Body mass, wing length, and condition of wintering ducks relative to hematozoa infection
Year Published: 2017

Body mass, wing length, and condition of wintering ducks relative to hematozoa infection

Waterfowl managers lack information regarding factors that may be reducing the positive response of waterfowl body condition to habitat improvements. Protozoan blood parasites (i.e., hematozoa) are commonly found in birds and have been related to reduced body mass, wing length, and body condition. We studied relationships between 12 measures of hematozoa infection and body mass, wing length, and...