Energy & Wildlife

Fossil Fuels

Oil and gas extraction and coal mining activities are several stressors to sensitive ecosystems. USGS scientists are studying the effects of fossil fuel extraction on landscapes and on terrestrial and aquatic species. Scientists are also developing monitoring and management tools to help restore disturbed lands. Studies are focused on providing land managers information that can guide effective actions targeted to locations where they can have the best overall outcome.

Filter Total Items: 25
Date published: February 13, 2020
Status: Active

Well Pad Reclamation and Research

Reclamation on lands impacted by energy development is complicated and extremely challenging in arid environments due to unstable soils, exotic species, and low and variable precipitation. The reclamation tactics employed by energy operators vary widely and outcomes can differ across plant communities and soil types. In order to address the knowledge gaps regarding how to successfully and...

Date published: April 9, 2019
Status: Active

Deepwater Atlantic Habitats II: Continued Atlantic Research and Exploration in Deepwater Ecosystems with Focus on Coral, Canyon, and Seep Communities. Part II: Genetic Connectivity and Oceanomic Studies

This study utilizes genetics and genomics techniques to characterize biodiversity and genetic connectivity among deep-sea coral habitats and cold seeps in and near submarine canyons and will use environmental DNA techniques to characterize plankton diversity and to identify key contributors to carbon export from surface waters that sustain sensitive benthic communities. The proposed genetics...

Date published: April 3, 2019
Status: Active

An ecosystem approach to assessing unconventional oil and gas impacts in aquatic ecosystems

The development of unconventional oil and gas (UOG) technology promises economic, societal and national security benefits.  However, technological developments in this field have rapidly outpaced scientific studies on potential environmental effects.  The effects of accidental UOG-related spills on environmental health are not adequately characterized, often occur in already ecological...

Date published: February 25, 2019
Status: Active

Science Related to Oil Spills

Crude oil or oil distilled product (e.g. gasoline, diesel fuels, jet fuels) spills can occur during oil exploration, production, and transportation activities. Environmental impacts of spills are complex and can be difficult to assess. The chemical makeup of oil and oil products is diverse which affects oil behavior (e.g. volatilization, sinking). Oil degradation and fate are also influenced...

Date published: August 13, 2018
Status: Active

Changing Arctic Ecosystems

The USGS Changing Arctic Ecosystems Initiative will enhance the long-term science foundation needed by the U.S. Department of the Interior and other partners.

Date published: August 10, 2018
Status: Active

Loon Research

Scientists at the USGS Alaska Science Center have conducted research on Alaska’s three loon species since the late 1970s. Loons rely on freshwater lakes for nesting habitat and fish and invertebrates inhabiting lakes and marine ecosystems for food. All three loon species in Alaska occur within the National Petroleum Reserve-Alaska (NPR-A) on Alaska’s northern coast. Research by the USGS is...

Date published: August 2, 2018
Status: Active

Cook Inlet Seabird and Forage Fish Study

A massive die-off of Common Murres was documented in the Gulf of Alaska (GOA) during the fall and winter of 2015-2016 in association with a record-breaking marine heat wave in the GOA.

Date published: July 19, 2018
Status: Active

Science for Oil and Gas Leasing-related Decisions

Through the Changing Arctic Ecosystems (CAE) Initiative, the U.S. Geological Survey (USGS) is informing key resource management decisions by better understanding how wildlife populations of special interest to the Department of the Interior (DOI) are responding to rapid physical changes in the Arctic. Below are some examples of how CAE research is...

Date published: June 28, 2018
Status: Active


USGS scientists develop techniques for restoration and rehabilitation, provide tools that can be used to restore impaired ecosystems into healthy, resilient landscapes and watersheds that sustain plants and animals, and identify adaptation strategies for managers to plan and implement for ecosystem adaptation to natural and human-caused drivers of ecosystem change.

Date published: June 27, 2018
Status: Completed

Potential effects of energy development on environmental resources of the Williston Basin in Montana, North Dakota, and South Dakota

Federal resource managers in the Williston Basin need to understand how the recent expansion of oil and gas development is affecting a range of natural resources. The Bakken Federal Executive Group (BFEG), a group of representatives from over a dozen federal and tribal agencies, called for a report that synthesizes existing information about the potential impacts from energy development. The...

Date published: June 26, 2018
Status: Active

Spatiotemporal dynamics of grassland songbird populations in response to energy development in an agricultural landscape

The recent expansion of unconventional oil and gas development in the Williston Basin of North America has raised concerns among managers about potential negative effects of such development on grassland birds. Others, however, have argued that agricultural land use in the region has had a much larger impact and that energy development may be a comparatively small stressor for grassland birds...

Date published: June 26, 2018
Status: Active

Monitoring and modeling wetland chloride concentrations in relationship to oil and gas development

Extraction of oil and gas via unconventional methods is becoming an important aspect of energy production worldwide. Studying the effects of this development in countries where these technologies are being widely used may provide managers in other oil producing parts of the world with some insight in terms of concerns associated with development. Rapid increases in energy development in North...