Western Ecological Research Center (WERC)

Environmental Stressors

Filter Total Items: 34
Date published: October 30, 2017
Status: Active

Contaminants in Waterbirds and Effects on Avian Reproduction

California’s Central Valley and San Francisco Bay Estuary have a long history of mercury contamination from past mercury mining and gold extraction. Waterbirds are particularly susceptible to mercury because of their use of wetland habitats where methylmercury (the most toxic and biologically available form) is produced and relatively low methylmercury exposure can reduce reproductive success...

Contacts: Josh T Ackerman
Date published: October 30, 2017
Status: Active

Conservation of Rare, Sensitive, and At-risk Desert Plant Species

The Mojave Desert is among the hottest and driest of the North American drylands, but in spite of these extreme conditions, and in part because of them, a diverse flora exists. This diversity of rare, endemic, and endangered species is threatened by the complex interaction between fluctuating climate and human-mediated disturbances. USGS studies have identified rare species “hotspots” for...

Contacts: Lesley DeFalco
Date published: October 30, 2017
Status: Active

Breeding and Wintering Ecology of Waterfowl

Western U.S. wetlands provide critical habitat for wintering and breeding waterfowl in California. WERC's Dr. Josh Ackerman is working toward collecting data to understand factors influencing duck nest success, to improve and restore breeding habitat for resident duck populations in California, and understand composition of predator communities. To learn more about how USGS WERC is...

Contacts: Josh T Ackerman
Date published: October 30, 2017
Status: Active

Bat Research in California

The primary goal of this bat research program is to develop projects that increase our understanding of basic ecology and natural history of western bat species, while simultaneously providing needed data to inform conservation measures and management decisions in the West. Dr. Brian Halstead, together with Gabriel Reyes, studies the habitat and resource selection, movement ecology, demography...

Contacts: Brian Halstead
Date published: October 30, 2017
Status: Active

Adaptations to Rapid Change

Management decisions are made at the intersection of facts and values, and WERC's role is to assist decision-makers by bringing the best available science to the table.  Dr. Nathan Stephenson seeks to help managers and policy makers reassess their missions in light of rapid and unprecedented changes, develop broad concepts relevant to adapting to such changes, and provide hands-on assistance...

Date published: June 30, 2017
Status: Active

Greater Sage-Grouse Population Ecology

Greater Sage-grouse are iconic birds found only in the Great Basin of the western U.S. Known for their showy courting displays, sage-grouse rely on native sagebrush habitat to shelter their young. Dr. Pete Coates is providing resource managers with the tools and information they need to conserve sage-grouse as invasive plants, evolving wildfire patterns, and energy development change the Great...

Contacts: Peter Coates
Date published: October 24, 2016
Status: Active

Kelp Forest Community Ecology

The near shore waters along the coast of southern California host one of the most productive marine ecosystems on earth: giant kelp forests. These complex environments provide habitat, food, and hiding places for more than 1,000 species of plants and animals, but are easily disturbed by both natural events and human activities. Strong storms, fluctuating water temperatures, coastal development...

Contacts: Kevin Lafferty
Date published: May 22, 2015
Status: Completed

Monitoring Mercury's Risk to Wildlife in California Lakes

USGS scientists sampled grebes in California lakes to compare mercury levels in these predators versus the small fish they prey on—developing a new tool for water quality monitoring.

Date published: January 16, 2015
Status: Completed

Densovirus Calculated as Culprit Killing Sea Stars

A prime suspect has been identified as a probable cause of the "Sea Star Wasting Disease," a mysterious epidemic that has been killing these animals in droves along the U.S. and Canadian Pacific Coast. Researchers from Cornell University, the U.S. Geological Survey (USGS), and other institutions published their findings on this "sea star associated densovirus (SSaDV)" in the December 2014 ...

Contacts: Kevin Lafferty
Date published: July 26, 2013
Status: Completed

Pesticides Found in Amphibians from Remote Areas in California

Amphibians from remote locations in California have accumulated several current-use pesticides, including fungicides, in their bodies. A team of U.S. Geological Survey (USGS) scientists recently reported on field results in the journal Environmental Toxicology and Chemistry. Two fungicides, pyraclostrobin and tebuconazole, and the herbicide simazine were detected frequently in amphibians from...

Contacts: Kelly Smalling