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: 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. 

Date published: March 23, 2021

Research Spotlight: Dabbling Ducks Prefer Managed Wetlands and Pond-Like Features in Suisun Marsh

A recent study by USGS scientists found that dabbling ducks in Suisun Marsh, California, spend about 98% percent of their time in managed wetlands, consistently selecting managed wetlands over tidal marsh habitat.

Date published: March 11, 2021

Research Spotlight: New Habitat Maps Inform Endangered Least Bell’s Vireo Recovery in California

A new report from USGS ecologists analyzes the suitability of California habitat for the federally endangered Least Bell’s Vireo (Vireo bellii pusillus) across its current and historic range. The resulting maps identify the 6% of the state’s riparian habitat most likely to be used by the Least Bell’s Vireo and help meet federal recovery objectives for this species.

Publications

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Year Published: 2021

Range-wide greater sage-grouse hierarchical monitoring framework—Implications for defining population boundaries, trend estimation, and a targeted annual warning system

Incorporating spatial and temporal scales into greater sage-grouse (Centrocercus urophasianus) population monitoring strategies is challenging and rarely implemented. Sage-grouse populations experience fluctuations in abundance that lead to temporal oscillations, making trend estimation difficult. Accounting for stochasticity is critical to...

Coates, Peter S.; Prochazka, Brian G.; O'Donnell, Michael S.; Aldridge, Cameron L.; Edmunds, David R.; Monroe, Adrian P.; Ricca, Mark A.; Wann, Gregory T.; Hanser, Steve E.; Wiechman, Lief A.; Chenaille, Michael
Coates, P.S., Prochazka, B.G., O’Donnell, M.S., Aldridge, C.L., Edmunds, D.R., Monroe, A.P., Ricca, M.A., Wann, G.T., Hanser, S.E., Wiechman, L.A., and Chenaille, M.P., 2021, Range-wide greater sage-grouse hierarchical monitoring framework—Implications for defining population boundaries, trend estimation, and a targeted annual warning system: U.S. Geological Survey Open-File Report 2020–1154, 243 p., https://doi.org/10.3133/ofr20201154.

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Year Published: 2021

Generic relationships of New World Jerusalem crickets (Orthoptera: Stenopelmatoidea: Stenopelmatinae), including all known species of Stenopelmatus

The New World Jerusalem crickets currently consist of 4 genera: Stenopelmatus Burmeister, 1838, with 33 named entities; Ammopelmatus Tinkham, 1965, with 2 described species; Viscainopelmatus Tinkham, 1970, with 1 described species, and Stenopelmatopterus Gorochov, 1988, with 3 described...

Weissman, David B; Vandergast, Amy G.; Song, Hojun; Shin, Seunggwan; McKenna, Duane D; Ueshima, Norihiro

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Year Published: 2021

Distribution, abundance, and genomic diversity of the endangered antioch dunes evening primrose (Oenothera deltoides subsp. howellii) surveyed in 2019

Sand dune ecosystems are highly dynamic landforms found along coastlines and riverine deltas where a supply of sand-sized material is available to be delivered by aquatic and wind environments. These unique ecosystems provide habitat for a variety of endemic and rare plant and animal species. Sand dunes have been affected by human development,...

Thorne, Karen M.; Vandergast, Amy G.
Thorne, K.M., and Vandergast, A.G., 2021, Distribution, abundance, and genomic diversity of the endangered Antioch Dunes evening-primrose (Oenothera deltoides subsp. howellii) surveyed in 2019: U.S. Geological Survey Open-File Report 2021–1017, 40 p., https://doi.org/10.3133/ofr20211017.