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: March 11, 2020

Rare Southwestern Willow Flycatcher Banded by USGS Spotted on Nicaragua Wintering Grounds

An endangered Southwestern Willow Flycatcher banded by USGS ecologists in San Diego in July 2017 was recently spotted 3000+ miles away on its wintering grounds in Nicaragua.

Date published: March 3, 2020

Caught on Camera: Sierra Martens and Flying Squirrels Using Wildlife Passage

The adorable Sierra Marten pictured below was caught on wildlife camera in October. The camera was set up to study animal movement under a new road crossing structure known as the “toad road” in Sierra National Forest.

Date published: January 15, 2020

In the Media: Desert Tortoise Researchers Featured by KUNC Public Radio

USGS scientists study threats to the Mojave desert tortoise


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Year Published: 2020

19-day-old greater sage-grouse chick killed by Great Basin gopher snake

Despite extensive range overlap between Great Basin gopher snakes (Pituophis catenifer deserticola) and Greater Sage-Grouse (Centrocercus urophasianus) within sagebrush ecosystems, there are few documented predator–prey interactions between these species. Although gopher snakes have been observed preying on nests of other prairie grouse, studies...

McIntire, Sarah E; Rabon, Jordan C; Coates, Peter S.; Ricca, Mark A.; Johnson, Tracey N

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Year Published: 2020

Abundance and productivity of marbled murrelets (Brachyramphus marmoratus) off central California during the 2019 breeding season

Marbled murrelets (Brachyramphus marmoratus) have been listed as “endangered” by the State of California and “threatened” by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service since 1992 in California, Oregon, and Washington. Information regarding marbled murrelet abundance, distribution, population trends, and habitat associations is critical for risk assessment...

Felis, Jonathan J.; Kelsey, Emily C.; Adams, Josh; Horton, Cheryl; White, Laura (Laney)
Felis, J.J., Kelsey, E.C., Adams, J., Horton, C., and White, L., 2020, Abundance and productivity of marbled murrelets (Brachyramphus marmoratus) off central California during the 2019 breeding season: U.S. Geological Survey Data Series 1123, 13 p., https://doi.org/10.3133/ds 1123.

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Year Published: 2020

An uncertain future for a population of desert tortoises experiencing human impacts

We evaluated the status of a population of Mojave Desert Tortoises (Gopherus agassizii), a threatened species, in the El Paso Mountains of the northwestern Mojave Desert in California, USA. The study area lies north of and adjacent to a designated critical habitat unit for the species, is adjacent to a state park, and is a short distance from the...

Berry, Kristin H.; Yee, Julie L.; Lyren, Lisa L.; Mack, Jeremy S