Land Stewardship Science Team

Science Center Objects

The Land Stewardship Integrated Science Team focuses on the potential for contaminant exposures in the environment that might originate from land management activities like wildfire and dust suppression, vector control (for example: mosquitos and rodents) and invasive species (Asian carp and nuisance plants). Perceived health risks to humans and other organisms will be distinguished from actual risks, if any. If actual risks are identified this project will inform how to economically and effectively minimize risk by providing scientific data and understandings about the management practice as well as related environmental transport, fate, and exposure pathways of contaminants and pathogens. Emphasis will be placed on addressing these issues on public and Department of Interior managed landscapes.

 Dusty road conditions at Squaw Creek

Dusty conditions prior to road treatment on the auto tour loop at Loess Bluffs National Wildlife Refuge (formerly Squaw Creek NWR) in July of 2014. Loess Bluffs was the site of a large-scale field test of two dust suppressant products, with monitoring of product performance and environmental safety. 

(Credit: Bethany Williams Kunz, US Geological Survey. Public domain.)


Managers of federal lands (national parks and monuments, wildlife refuges, wildlands, and others) at times need to utlize chemicals to respond to wild fires, wildlife disease, invasive species, and protection of visitors.  Questions arise about the potential for unintended exposures and unforseen health effects to non-target organisms such as humans, fish, and wildlife.  The Land Stewardship Team addresses works to answer these questions and provides an understanding of mitigation strategies to to effectively minimizeidentified risks.

 Science Questions and Activities

  • Do adult mosquito control pesticides pose a health risk for nontarget terrestrial invertebrates while effectively controlling mosquitoes?
  • What are the health risks to humans and wildlife, if any, due to chemical treatments on unpaved roads?
  • What is the risk of exposure and adverse health effects, if any, to non-target organisms associated with use of anticoagulant rodenticides?
  • What is the acute toxicity of candidate fire control chemicals being considered for the U.S. Forest Service Qualified Products List to early life stages of rainbow trout, a useful surrogate for protection of native species.
  • What is the health risk to biota due to the range of continuous, episodic, and short-lived exposures from spills of fire-fighting chemicals?
  • What is the non-target health risk to other aquatic biota when antimycin-laden microparticle formulations are used to control Asian Carp in the Great Lakes region?
  • Do chemicals used to control invasive crayfish in tanks on fish hatchery trucks pose a health risk to non-target organisms?
  • What are the risks, if any, of a pesticide used to benefit wildlife to non-target species?
  • What do wildlife incident data reveal about which pesticides are or are not responsible for adverse effects?