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 13, 2021

Wildfire Smoke Disrupts Bird Migration in the West

SACRAMENTO, Calif. – Early fall wildfires in the western states and the smoke they generate pose a risk to birds migrating in the Pacific Flyway, according to a new study by the U.S. Geological Survey. GPS data from the 2020 wildfire season indicate that at least some migratory birds may take longer and use more energy to avoid wildfire smoke.

Date published: October 5, 2021

Research Spotlight: High Salinity and Limited Wetlands Reduce Duckling Habitat for Waterfowl

A new publication by USGS scientists examines wetland availability and salinity in Suisun Marsh, with particular focus on the implications for young ducklings with low salinity tolerance. The results indicated that a majority of wetland area in Suisun Marsh has salinity concentrations high enough to have detrimental effects on duckling growth and survival.

Date published: September 19, 2021

Sea Otter Surveys Get a High-Tech, COVID-Safe Update for 2021

After a 2020 cancellation of the annual sea otter census, the count was back on for 2021.


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Year Published: 2021

Megafires and thick smoke portend big problems for migratory birds

In 2020, the fire season affecting the western United States reached unprecedented levels. The 116 fires active in September consumed nearly 20,822 km2 (https://inciweb.nwcg.gov/accessible-view/ Accessed 2020-09-29) with eighty percent of this footprint (16,567 km2) from 68 fires occurring within California, Oregon, and Washington....

Overton, Cory T.; Lorenz, Austen; James, Eric P; Ahmadov, Ravan; Eadie, John M.; McDuie, Fiona; Petrie, Mark J.; Nicolai, Chris A.; Weaver, Melanie L; Skalos, Daniel A; Skalos, Shannon; Mott, Andrea Lynn; Mackell, Desmond Alexander; Kennedy, Anna; Matchett, Elliott L.; Casazza, Michael L.

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Year Published: 2021

Range eclipse leads to tenuous survival of a rare lizard species on a barrier atoll

Rediscovery of living populations of a species that was presumed to be extirpated can generate new narratives for conservation in areas suffering from losses in biodiversity. We used field observations and DNA sequence data to verify the rediscovery of the Critically Endangered scincid lizard Emoia slevini on Dåno′, an islet off the...

Richmond, Jonathan Q.; Wostl, Elijah; Reed, Robert; Fisher, R. N.

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Year Published: 2021

Schistosome infection in Senegal is associated with different spatial extents of risk and ecological drivers for Schistosoma haematobium and S. mansoni

Schistosome parasites infect more than 200 million people annually, mostly in sub-Saharan Africa, where people may be co-infected with more than one species of the parasite. Infection risk for any single species is determined, in part, by the distribution of its obligate intermediate host snail. As the World Health Organization reprioritizes snail...

Jones, Isabel J.; Sokolow, Susanne H.; Chamberlin, Andrew J; Lund, Andrea J; Jouanard, Nicolas; Bandagny, Lydie; Ndione, Raphaël; Senghor, Simon; Schacht, Anne-Marie; Riveau, Gilles; Hopkins, Skylar R.; Rohr, Jason R.; Remais, Justin V.; Lafferty, Kevin D.; Kuris, Armand M.; Wood, Chelsea L.; De Leo, Giulio A.