Western Ecological Research Center


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

Filter Total Items: 135
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.

Date published: February 3, 2021

Research Spotlight: Wetland Habitats and Aquatic Prey May Drive High Hair Mercury Concentrations in Suisun Marsh Raccoons

A new study by scientists from USGS in collaboration with the California Department of Water Resources has found that mercury concentrations detected in hair of raccoons living in Suisun Marsh, California are some of the highest levels observed in raccoons and for wild mammals overall.

Date published: December 23, 2020

12 Days of Conifer Bonus: Spiky Leaves Aren't Just For Conifers

Nothing like a baker’s dozen, right? As a bonus for 12 Days Of Conifers we have…. hey! That’s not a conifer!

Date published: December 23, 2020

12 Days of Conifers: Lodgepole Pines and Mountain Meadows

For Day 11 of 12 Days Of Conifers, we present the lodgepole pine. Lodgepole pine (Pinus contorta) is the only pine in the Sierra Nevada with needles in clusters of two, making it relatively easy to identify in that region.

Date published: December 23, 2020

12 Days of Conifers: Where the Forest Meets the Sea: Seabirds, Conifers, and Wildfire

It’s Day 12 of 12 Days Of Conifers and today we feature a tale of land and sea, involving two conifers and the little seabird that nests in their highest branches.

Date published: December 23, 2020

12 Days of Conifers: Pines of Santa Rosa Island's Cloud Forests

For Day 10 of 12 Days Of Conifers, we’re leaving the mountains and heading to a completely different ecosystem: the cloud forests of Santa Rosa Island, one of the California Channel Islands, located about 26 miles off the coast of Santa Barbara.

Date published: December 23, 2020

12 Days of Conifers: A Tale of Two Conifers: Incense Cedar and Sugar Pine

For Day 9 of 12 Days Of Conifers, we feature two very different conifer species: incense cedar (Calocedrus decurrens) and sugar pine (Pinus lambertiana)--and the role of tree species in determining what trees die during drought.