Western Ecological Research Center


Click on the articles below to read about the latest WERC scientific discoveries.

Filter Total Items: 141
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.

Date published: August 18, 2021

Research Spotlight: New Study Explores Nocturnal Nest Breaks and Predation Events for Dabbling Ducks

A new study by USGS scientists, in collaboration with the California Department of Water Resources and California Department of Fish and Wildlife, examined whether female ducks (hens) in Suisun Marsh, California leave their nest at night voluntarily or in response to a predator. They find that most nest breaks at night are initiated by the hen, but a quarter of nest departures are the result...

Date published: August 2, 2021

When Unchecked, Free-Roaming Horse Populations Threaten Greater Sage-Grouse

Greater sage-grouse populations may decline by more than 70% within free-roaming horse-occupied areas by 2034 if horse populations increase unchecked at current rates. Reducing horse numbers could neutralize their negative impacts.

Date published: July 28, 2021

Research Spotlight: Ignitions and Wind Speed are Strongest Drivers of Area Burned in Santa Ana Wind Fires

New research from USGS scientists and collaborators has found that the number of wildfire ignitions and wind speeds outweigh temperature and precipitation in determining the area burned in Southern California’s Santa Ana wind-driven fires.

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. 

Date published: March 23, 2021

Research Spotlight: Dabbling Ducks Prefer Managed Wetlands and Pond-Like Features in Suisun Marsh

A recent study by USGS scientists found that dabbling ducks in Suisun Marsh, California, spend about 98% percent of their time in managed wetlands, consistently selecting managed wetlands over tidal marsh habitat.

Date published: March 11, 2021

Research Spotlight: New Habitat Maps Inform Endangered Least Bell’s Vireo Recovery in California

A new report from USGS ecologists analyzes the suitability of California habitat for the federally endangered Least Bell’s Vireo (Vireo bellii pusillus) across its current and historic range. The resulting maps identify the 6% of the state’s riparian habitat most likely to be used by the Least Bell’s Vireo and help meet federal recovery objectives for this species.

Date published: February 12, 2021

You've Heard a Bird Sing, But Have You Heard a Jerusalem Cricket's Drum?

You’ve probably heard a bird singing to find a mate, or even a frog. But have you ever heard a Jerusalem cricket’s drum?

Date published: February 10, 2021

Research Spotlight: Precise Eggshell Thickness Measurements To Inform Bird Ecology And Mercury Monitoring

In a study published in the journal Ecology and Evolution, USGS biologists provide precise eggshell thickness measurements for 12 species of birds that breed in the San Francisco Bay Estuary.