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: 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. 

Publications

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Year Published: 2021

Climate change vulnerability assessment for the California coastal national monument—Trinidad and Point Arena-Stornetta units

Executive SummaryThe California Coastal National Monument protects islets, reefs, and rock outcropping habitats in six onshore units, including the Trinidad and Point Arena-Stornetta Units.The California Coastal National Monument provides crucial habitat for resident and migratory species of seabirds, marine mammals, and invertebrates, which...

Thorne, Karen M.; Freeman, Chase M.; Buffington, Kevin J.; De La Cruz, Susan E.W.
Thorne, K.M., Freeman, C.M., Buffington, K., and De La Cruz, S.E.W., 2021, Climate change vulnerability assessment for the California coastal national monument—Trinidad and Point Arena-Stornetta units: U.S. Geological Survey Open-File Report 2021–1050, 64 p., https://doi.org/10.3133/ofr20211050.

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Year Published: 2021

Least Bell's Vireos and Southwestern Willow Flycatchers at the San Luis Rey flood risk management project area in San Diego County, California—Breeding activities and habitat use—2020 annual report

Executive SummarySurveys and monitoring for the endangered Least Bell’s Vireo (Vireo bellii pusillus; vireo) were done at the San Luis Rey Flood Risk Management Project Area (Project Area) in the city of Oceanside, San Diego County, California, between March 31 and July 20, 2020. We completed four protocol surveys during the breeding season,...

Houston, Alexandra; Allen, Lisa D.; Pottinger, Ryan E.; Kus, Barbara E.
Houston, A., Allen, L.D., Pottinger, R.E., and Kus, B.E., 2021, Least Bell's Vireos and Southwestern Willow Flycatchers at the San Luis Rey flood risk management project area in San Diego County, California—Breeding activities and habitat use—2020 annual report: U.S. Geological Survey Open-File Report 2021–1053, 67 p., https://doi.org/10.3133/ofr20211053.

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Year Published: 2021

A tale of two valleys: Endangered species policy and the fate of the giant gartersnake

By the mid-20th Century, giant gartersnakes (Thamnophis gigas) had lost more than 90% of their Central Valley marsh habitat and were extirpated from more than two-thirds of their range. This massive habitat loss led to their inclusion in the inaugural list of rare species under the California Endangered Species Act (CESA). Listing under the CESA...

Halstead, Brian J.; Valcarcel, Patricia; Kim, Richard; Jordan, Anna; Rose, Jonathan P.; Skalos, Shannon; Reyes, Gabriel; Ersan, Julia; Casazza, Michael L.; Essert, Allison; Fulton, Alexandria M