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A Model Partnership-The Cooperative Research Units Program

December 16, 2022


Our program is a unique model of cooperative partnership among the USGS, other U.S. Department of the Interior and Federal agencies, universities, State fish and wildlife agencies, and the Wildlife Management Institute. These partnerships are maintained as one of the USGS’s strongest links to Federal and State land and natural resource management agencies.

Two biologists stand in shallow water holding least tern chicks to re-read their leg bands.
At Poplar Island in the Chesapeake Bay, MD, Peter McGowan (USFWS, left) and Diann Prosser (USGS, right) capture fledgling common terns to read plastic colored leg bands that identify individual birds. Here interagency collaboration leads to benefits for wildlife and people. Army Corps of Engineers and the Port Authority of Baltimore have been restoring this historic barrier island with dredge spoil material- creating nesting habitat for waterbirds, maintaining productivity at the port, and providing coastal storm protection for Maryland's Eastern Shore.

Who we Are

Established in 1935 to meet the need for trained professionals in the growing field of wildlife management, the program currently consists of 43 Units located on university campuses in 40 States and supports over 100 USGS research scientist positions when fully funded.


(1) conduct research to deliver actionable science to cooperating agencies and organizations, (2) develop the natural resource conservation workforce of the future through graduate education, and (3) fulfill the training and technical assistance needs of cooperators.

Applied Research

One of the three pillars of our mission is to lead research that provides science solutions for the management needs of our State and Federal agency cooperators—research that informs decision making.

Canada lynx
Scientists at the USGS Massachusetts Cooperative Fish and Wildlife Research Unit at the University of Massachusetts Amherst, in collaboration with The Rockefeller University’s Vertebrate Genome Laboratory, New York, are releasing to a public repository at the vertebrate lab, for use by geneticists, conservationists and other researchers around the world, the first-ever whole genome for the Canada lynx.

Landscape Level Research Portfolio

Our program with its Federal, State, and university partners are proactively working together to conduct science at transboundary landscape levels to meet the needs of all stakeholders while building constructive, effective, geographically broad conservation programs that wouldn’t be possible at the individual State level.

University Campuses

The geographic distribution of 43 Units on 41 University campuses and the collaborative structure within the program place the CRU program in a unique role of facilitating these broader syntheses, analyses, and conservation efforts that fit neatly into larger USGS strategic goals and objectives.

woman wearing a hat, yellow and white plaid shirt, yellow sunglasses, taking a selfie with a cell phone,
Brielle K Thompson is a PhD candidate at the University of Washington Cooperative Fish and Wildlife Research Unit. Brielle is a Master's student in the Quantitative Ecology and Resource Management program at the University of Washington. She is co-advised by Dr. Sarah Converse and Dr. Julian Olden. Her graduate research involves applying mathematical, statistical, and geospatial models to better inform invasive species management.

Research Abstracts

The breadth and scope of the CRU’s research portfolio and scientific capacity is best demonstrated through our research abstracts report which provides a summary of the objectives, findings, and applications of over 560 research projects.