Western Ecological Research Center (WERC)

Landscape Management Research Program

WERC scientists study landscape level change and other environmental threats to ecosystems that provide for wildlife and humans alike. Our research programs inform the recovery of ecosystems such as the nearshore marine environment, coastal marshes, wetlands, forests, Pacific islands, arid deserts, and the sagebrush steppe. Ecosystem-level research is conducted in particular on National Parks, Bureau of Land Management and Department of Defense lands, National Wildlife Refuges, and State lands, bays, and interior and coastal waters The projects below offer a closer look into WERC studies informing ecosystem management.

Filter Total Items: 35
Date published: May 6, 2019
Status: Active

Using Drone Imagery to Assess Impacts of the 2018 Carr Fire

USGS WERC’s Dr. Karen Thorne and her research team are using drone imagery to understand how the 2018 Carr Fire affected ecosystems and cultural resources. The study, a collaboration with the National Park Service (NPS), focuses on Whiskeytown National Recreation Area in northern California. The drone images will help the WERC researchers identify changes in topography, cultural sites, debris...

Date published: November 21, 2017
Status: Active

Southern California Wildfire Risk Scenario Project

Every year, wildfires devastate the landscapes of Southern California from Los Angeles to San Diego. How has a higher number of human-caused fires affected fire hazards and threats to resources? WERC’s Dr. Jon Keeley and collaborators are analyzing fire patterns across the state to help cities balance their management of fire hazards and natural resources.

Contacts: Jon Keeley, Teresa J Brennan-Kane, Alex Syphard
Date published: October 30, 2017
Status: Active

Wildland Fire Science in Forests and Deserts

Fuel conditions and fire regimes in western forests and deserts have been altered due to past land management, biological invasions, and recent extreme weather events and climate shifts. These changes have created extreme fire risk to local and regional communities, threatening their economic health related to wildland recreation, forest production, livestock operations, and other uses of...

Contacts: Matthew Brooks
Date published: October 30, 2017
Status: Active

Wetland Restoration in the San Francisco Bay Delta and Pacific Northwest

Estuaries and healthy coastal habitats are among the most productive ecosystems on Earth. They provide a variety of benefits, including habitat and food for fish and wildlife, flood and erosion protection, improved water quality, increased carbon sequestration, as well as beautiful scenery and opportunities for recreation.  Along the U.S. Pacific Coast, both the San Francisco Bay estuary and...

Date published: October 30, 2017
Status: Active

Waterfowl Ecology in California and the Pacific Flyway

The Suisun Marsh and Central Valley in California offer some of the world’s most important wetland habitats for waterfowl in the Pacific Flyway. Mike Casazza and USGS WERC biologists are providing the science to support and evaluate waterfowl populations and habitat management in North America.

Contacts: Michael Casazza
Date published: October 30, 2017
Status: Active

Waterbird Breeding Ecology and Management

The San Francisco Bay is designated as a site of hemispheric importance to shorebirds and annually supports over one million waterbirds. Within the USGS WERC waterbird breeding ecology program, Dr. Josh Ackerman and partners are studying habitat selection, movements, and factors influencing waterbird nest success and chick growth and survival. 

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

Supporting Informed Responses to Sea-Level Rise

To facilitate communication and outreach of sea level rise research results and implications, Dr. Karen Thorne and members of USGS WERC are hosting in-person workshops along the Pacific coast at different sites in Washington, Oregon, and California.

Date published: October 30, 2017
Status: Active

Southwestern Desert Ecology of At-risk Species and their Habitats

The southwestern desert region is home to many sensitive species. Species are at-risk due to past, present, and future changes to the landscape. WERC’s Dr. Todd Esque, field researchers, and collaborators are using models, monitoring plans, and decision-support tools to provide land managers with the resources they need to answer questions about how environmental change influences plants,...

Contacts: Todd Esque
Date published: October 30, 2017
Status: Active

Seabird Health and Adaptive Management

Dr. Josh Adams and his science team at WERC study seabird health and support adaptive management by quantifying abundance patterns and behaviors associated with habitats at sea, where seabirds spend the overwhelming majority of their lives. Adams’s team also employs conservation science to support resource managers on land, where seabirds are obligated to nest. His group provides scientific...

Contacts: Josh Adams
Date published: October 30, 2017
Status: Active

Process-based Approaches for Ecological Restoration of Degraded Drylands

Surface disturbances ranging from military training, recreation, energy exploration and development, and wildfires impact a large majority of federal lands in the western US, but the ecological and economic impacts are poorly understood. Explore this webpage to learn how Dr. Lesley DeFalco and her research team are currently evaluating and refining conventional approaches for post-fire...

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

Population Structure and Demography of the Least Bell’s Vireo and Southwestern Willow Flycatcher and Use of Restored Riparian Habitat

Riparian woodlands are highly productive ecosystems that support a disproportionately high fraction of regional biodiversity. They are also one of the most endangered terrestrial systems in temperate North America, and have been reduced to just 5% of their former extent in California and throughout the American southwest. These losses have been accompanied by steep declines in numerous plant...

Contacts: Barbara Kus
Date published: October 30, 2017
Status: Active

Native Plant Materials for Ecological Restoration of Degraded Drylands

There is a growing consensus among resource managers to use native plant materials for ecological restoration of degraded drylands. Some plant species may be suitable for re-introduction across broad environmental gradients. Other species may fail under narrower conditions, or their re-introduction may have genetic consequences for local ecotypes, particularly when adapting to future climate...

Contacts: Lesley DeFalco