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: December 23, 2020

12 Days of Conifer Bonus: Spiky Leaves Aren't Just For Conifers

Nothing like a baker’s dozen, right? As a bonus for 12 Days Of Conifers we have…. hey! That’s not a conifer!

Date published: December 23, 2020

12 Days of Conifers: Lodgepole Pines and Mountain Meadows

For Day 11 of 12 Days Of Conifers, we present the lodgepole pine. Lodgepole pine (Pinus contorta) is the only pine in the Sierra Nevada with needles in clusters of two, making it relatively easy to identify in that region.

Date published: December 23, 2020

12 Days of Conifers: Where the Forest Meets the Sea: Seabirds, Conifers, and Wildfire

It’s Day 12 of 12 Days Of Conifers and today we feature a tale of land and sea, involving two conifers and the little seabird that nests in their highest branches.


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Year Published: 2021

Exposure to domoic acid is an ecological driver of cardiac disease in southern sea otters

Harmful algal blooms produce toxins that bioaccumulate in the food web and adversely affect humans, animals, and entire marine ecosystems. Blooms of the diatom Pseudo-nitzschia can produce domoic acid (DA), a toxin that most commonly causes neurological disease in endothermic animals, with cardiovascular effects that were first...

Moriarty, Megan E; Tinker, M Tim; Miller, Melissa; Tomoleoni, Joseph; Staedler, Michelle M.; Fujii, Jessica A.; Batac, Francesca I.; Dodd, Erin M.; Kudela, Raphael M.; Zubkousky-White, Vanessa; Johnson, Christine K.

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Year Published: 2021

Examining the potential conflict between sea otter recovery and Dungeness crab fisheries in California

Human exploitation of marine mammals led to precipitous declines in many wild populations within the last three centuries. Legal protections enacted throughout the 20th century have enabled the recovery of many of these species and some recoveries have resulted in conflict with humans for shared resources. With legal protections and reintroduction...

Boustany, Andre M.; Hernandez, David; Miller, Emily A; Fujii. Jessica; Nicholson, Teri E.; Tomoleoni, Joseph; Van Houtan, Kyle S.

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Year Published: 2021

Free-roaming horses disrupt greater sage-grouse lekking activity in the Great Basin

Greater Sage-Grouse (Centrocercus urophasianus; hereafter, sage-grouse) and free-roaming horses (Equus caballus) co-occur within large portions of sagebrush ecosystems within the Great Basin of western North America. In recent decades, sage-grouse populations have declined substantially while concomitant free-roaming horse populations have...

Munoz, Diana A.; Coates, Peter S.; Ricca, Mark A.