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.

Research Scientists

Research Scientists

WERC science is driven forward by our scientists and staff.

Research Scientists

WERC Quick Links

Check out our most up-to-date data, events and science.

WERC's Mission and Vision

Staff Directory


Image Gallery

Photo Contest Winners


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. 


Publication Thumbnail
Year Published: 2021

U.S. Geological Survey wildland fire science strategic plan, 2021–26

The U.S. Geological Survey (USGS) Wildland Fire Science Strategic Plan defines critical, core fire science capabilities for understanding fire-related and fire-responsive earth system processes and patterns, and informing management decision making. Developed by USGS fire scientists and executive leadership, and informed by conversations with...

Steblein, Paul F.; Loehman, Rachel A.; Miller, Mark P.; Holomuzki, Joseph R.; Soileau, Suzanna C.; Brooks, Matthew L.; Drane-Maury, Mia; Hamilton, Hannah M.; Kean, Jason W.; Keeley, Jon E.; Mason, Robert R.; McKerrow, Alexa J.; Meldrum, James R.; Molder, Edmund B.; Murphy, Sheila F.; Peterson, Birgit; Plumlee, Geoffrey S.; Shinneman, Douglas J.; van Mantgem, Phillip J.; York, Alison
Steblein, P.F., Loehman, R.A., Miller, M.P., Holomuzki, J.R., Soileau, S.C., Brooks, M.L., Drane-Maury, M., Hamilton, H.M., Kean, J.W., Keeley, J.E., Mason, R.R., Jr., McKerrow, A., Meldrum, J.R., Molder, E.B., Murphy, S.F., Peterson, B., Plumlee, G.S., Shinneman, D.J., van Mantgem, P.J., and York, A., 2021, U.S. Geological Survey wildland fire science strategic plan, 2021–26: U.S. Geological Survey Circular 1471, 30 p., https://doi.org/10.3133/cir1471.

Publication Thumbnail
Year Published: 2021

Priority species lists to restore desert tortoise and pollinator habitats in Mojave Desert shrublands

Mojave Desert shrublands are home to unique plants and wildlife and are experiencing rapid habitat change due to unprecedented large-scale disturbances; yet, established practices to effectively restore disturbed landscapes are not well developed. A priority species list of native plant taxa was developed to guide seed collectors, commercial...

Esque, Todd C.; DeFalco, Lesley A.; Tyree, Gayle Loren; Drake, K. Kristina; Nussear, Kenneth E.; Wilson, Joseph S

Publication Thumbnail
Year Published: 2021

Connectivity of Mojave Desert tortoise populations—Management implications for maintaining a viable recovery network

Executive SummaryThe historic distribution of Mojave desert tortoises (Gopherus agassizii) was relatively continuous across the range, and the importance of tortoise habitat outside of designated tortoise conservation areas (TCAs) to recovery has long been recognized for its contributions to supporting gene flow between TCAs and to minimizing...

Averill-Murray, Roy C.; Esque, Todd C.; Allison, Linda J.; Bassett, Scott; Carter, Sarah K.; Dutcher, Kirsten E.; Hromada, Steven J.; Shoemaker, Kevin T.; Nussear, Kenneth E.
Averill-Murray, R.C., Esque, T.C., Allison, L.J., Bassett, S., Carter, S.K., Dutcher, K.E., Hromada, S.J., Nussear, K.E., and Shoemaker, K., 2021, Connectivity of Mojave Desert tortoise populations—Management implications for maintaining a viable recovery network: U.S. Geological Survey Open-File Report 2021–1033, 23 p., https://doi.org/10.3133/ofr20211033.