Environments Program

Science for Ecosystem Management

USGS scientists conduct ecological research for use by partners conducting restoration, biodiversity conservation and resource extraction.  Researchers develop ecological models, forecast conditions, develop management alternatives, create decision support tools, monitor management outcomes, and update predictions. Additionally, our scientists are world renown for the application of decision analysis (e.g., structured decision making, adaptive management) to decision problems in natural resource management. 

Diverse Topics

Filter Total Items: 18
Date published: September 24, 2019
Status: Active

Wetland carbon storage and flux in the Prairie Pothole Region

Wetlands significantly contributes to regional, national and global carbon budgets. Because prairie-pothole wetlands have 1) highly productive vegetation and 2) low rates of carbon decomposition, they are ideal systems for accumulating and storing carbon in the soil. However, because prairie-pothole wetlands are located in areas of intense agricultural activity, this important pool of stored...

Contacts: Sheel Bansal
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: December 18, 2018
Status: Active

DISCOVRE - Diversity, Systematics and Connectivity of Vulnerable Reef Ecosystems Project

This project uses amplicon sequencing, and functional microarrays to examine the microbiomes of several deep-sea coral species, with priority given to species that are also of interest to the population genetics group: Desmophyllum dianthus, Lophelia pertusa, Enallopsammiasp. and Acanthogorgia sp. The project also uses metagenomics to survey benthic habitats including coral mounds, cold seeps...

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: June 27, 2018
Status: Active


The USGS Greater Everglades Priority Ecosystems Program provides science to support management and restoration of America’s Everglades. This program supports multi-year monitoring, modeling, and research  projects that span the entire range of scientific disciplines. A recent emphasis has been on climate change effects. Research topics include biogeochemistry, invasive species detection and...

Date published: April 26, 2018
Status: Active

Marine Ecosystems

The USGS conducts research on marine wildlife, habitats, and processes to provide science to inform our partners as they make decisions relative to species status, resource use, and human activities.

Date published: November 13, 2017
Status: Active

Indicators of Rangeland Health

Rangelands are natural ecosystems where the native vegetation consists predominantly of grasses, grass-like plants, forbs, or shrubs. Rangelands include natural grasslands, savannas, shrublands, oak and pinyon-juniper woodlands, many deserts, tundra, alpine communities, marshes, and wet meadows.

Contacts: David A Pyke
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

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

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
Date published: October 30, 2017
Status: Active

Aridlands Disturbances and Restoration Ecology

Desert landscapes are rapidly changing due to increases in invasive plant species, frequency of wildfires, urban and energy development, recreational use, military training, and climate variation. Dr. Todd Esque, USGS researchers, and collaborators are working together to investigate these changes and provide managers with key information that can be used to manage natural resources more...

Contacts: Todd Esque
Date published: August 5, 2017
Status: Active

RestoreNet: Distributed Field Trial Network for Dryland Restoration

U.S. Geological Survey (USGS) researchers and land managers are co-producing a network of restoration field trial sites on DOI and surrounding lands in the southwestern U.S. The network systematically tests restoration treatments across a broad range of landscape, soil, and climate conditions. Each site in the network is used to test suitable seed mixes and treatments that promote plant...

Contacts: Seth Munson, Molly McCormick, Katie Laushman, Rebecca Mann, Mike Duniway, Ph.D., Brad Butterfield, Elise Gornish, Loralee Larios, Akasha Faist, Helen Rowe, Christopher Lortie, Caroline A. Havrilla