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: October 10, 2019

New USGS research on 21st century California wildfires examines drivers of fire behavior and structure losses

Two new publications underscore the role of wind in destructive California wildfires

Date published: August 8, 2019

USGS WERC researcher wins award for reptile and amphibian conservation

SAN DIEGO—Dr. Robert Fisher wins Herpetological Conservation Award

Date published: July 18, 2019

What’s it like to be a tree in California today? WERC forest ecologist weighs in (Mashable)

Dr. Nate Stephenson says the rules are changing for Sierra Nevada trees


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Year Published: 2019

Sampling across 20 years (1996–2017) reveals loss of diversity and genetic connectivity in the Coachella Valley fringe-toed lizard (Uma inornata)

The Coachella Valley fringe-toed lizard (Uma inornata) is a federally threatened, aeolian sand dune obligate, endemic to the Coachella Valley, California. Historically, U. inornata is thought to have formed a large interconnected metapopulation across the valley, with local dune habitat and population size fluctuations linked to...

Vandergast, Amy G.; Wood, Dustin A.; Fisher, Mark; Barrows, Cameron W.; Mitelberg, Anna; Smith, Julia G.
Vandergast, A.G., Wood, D.A., Fisher, M., Barrows, C., Mitelberg, A., and Smith, J.G., 2019, Sampling across 20 years (1996–2017) reveals loss of diversity and genetic connectivity in the Coachella Valley fringe-toed lizard (Uma inornata): U.S. Geological Survey Open-File Report 2019–1105, 20 p., https://doi.org/10.3133/ofr20191105.

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Year Published: 2019

Physiological and gene transcription assays to assess responses of mussels to environmental changes

Coastal regions worldwide face increasing management concerns due to natural and anthropogenic forces that have the potential to significantly degrade nearshore marine resources. The goal of our study was to develop and test a monitoring strategy for nearshore marine ecosystems in remote areas that are not readily accessible for sampling. Mussel...

Counihan, Katrina; Bowen, Lizabeth; Ballachey, Brenda; Coletti, Heather A.; Hollman, Tuula; Pister, Benjamin; Wilson, Tammy L

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Year Published: 2019

Designing multi-scale hierarchical monitoring frameworks for wildlife to support management: A sage-grouse case study

Population monitoring is integral to the conservation and management of wildlife; yet, analyses of population demographic data rarely consider processes occurring across spatial scales, potentially limiting the effectiveness of adaptive management. Therefore, we developed a method to identify hierarchical levels of organization (i.e., populations...

O'Donnell, Michael S.; Edmunds, David R.; Aldridge, Cameron L.; Heinrichs, Julie; Coates, Peter S.; Prochazka, Brian G.; Hanser, Steven E.