Chesapeake Bay

Science Center Objects

USGS research has a critical role in providing scientific information to improve the understanding and management of the Nation’s largest estuary: the Chesapeake Bay ecosystem. The 64,000-square-mile watershed supports over 3,600 species of fish, wildlife, and plants and provides spawning grounds for many ecologically and economically important species including striped bass and blue crabs. The USGS works with Federal, State, and academic science partners to provide monitoring, research, and communication of results to improve ecosystem management for the Chesapeake and other National ecosystems. This complex ecosystem requires information from a combination of aquatic and terrestrial ecosystem research projects.

The Bay watershed lies in the heart of the Atlantic Flyway and 29 species of waterfowl, about 1 million birds, over-winter in the region. The size of the Chesapeake seafood harvest is third in the Nation, only behind the Atlantic and Pacific Oceans. Along with agricultural production, tourism, and recreation, the estimated economic value of the services from the Chesapeake Bay watershed is about $100 billion annually. However, the health of the Bay ecosystem began to decline at the beginning of the 20th century due to overfishing and increasing human population with the associated changes in land use. USGS is continuing to provide the research and ecological monitoring developed for and used by Federal, and State partners to restore the Chesapeake ecosystem. The USGS Chesapeake Science Strategy guides science activities to address the Chesapeake Bay Watershed Agreement (2014–2025) which supports the Interior’s involvement in the Bay restoration efforts.

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Chesapeake Bay Activities

The complexity of issues facing the Chesapeake Bay ecosystem and other places across the Nation requires the USGS to have an interdisciplinary science approach, coordinating with multiple USGS mission areas and other science partners to inform a broad base of decision makers. This website highlights the USGS science being done in the Bay.

Wood ducks, Chesapeake Bay

Wood ducks, Chesapeake Bay. (Credit: Middleston Evans, National Park Service. Public domain.)

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CURRENT USGS SCIENCE:

Patuxent Wildlife Research Center

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