Mission Areas


The Ecosystems Mission Area priority is to continue the important work of the Department of the Interior and the USGS, while also maintaining the health and safety of our employees and community.  Based on guidance from the White House, the CDC, and state and local authorities, we are shifting our operations to a virtual mode and have minimal staffing within our offices. 

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Collaborative Conservation

Collaborative Conservation

What do gray wolves, manatees and bears have in common? They are just a few of the species that are part of important USGS research that informs U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service decisions for endangered and threatened species.

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Outstanding in the Field

Outstanding in the Field

An Ecosystems Mission Area original podcast series that tells stories about our science, our adventures, and our efforts to better understand fish and wildlife and the ecosystems that support them.  

Ep 5 - GC Fish

Where's our Science?


Find out where Ecosystems Science Centers, Field Stations, and Cooperative Research Units are located.

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Date published: January 23, 2020

New Study Provides Insights for Detecting the Invasive Brown Treesnake

Research by the USGS and Dickinson College reveals why scientists fail to detect brown treesnakes at low densities

Date published: December 18, 2019

The Other 364 Days of the Year: The Real Lives of Wild Reindeer

Caribou, North America’s wild reindeer, have lives apart from their famous role on Christmas Eve. To learn more about how  these Arctic antler-bearers spend the other 364 days of the year,  we talked to USGS caribou  expert Dr. Layne Adams, who has studied these animals for more than 35 years.


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Year Published: 2020

Assessment of microscopic pathology in fishes collected at sites impacted by wood tar in Pennsylvania

In an effort to determine whether fish populations in an area affected by wood tar waste exhibited health effects, fish were collected and analyzed with histopathology. Multiple species, including Mottled Sculpin (Cottus bairdii), Creek Chub (Semotilus atromaculatus), White Sucker (Catostumus commersonii), Redside Dace (Clinostomus elongatus),...

Walsh, Heather L.; Blazer, Vicki S.; Mazik, Patricia M.; Sperry, Adam J.; Pavlick, Diana
Walsh, H.L., Blazer, V.S., Mazik, P.M., Sperry, A.J., and Pavlick, D., 2020, Assessment of microscopic pathology in fishes collected at sites impacted by wood tar in Pennsylvania: U.S. Geological Survey Open-File Report 2020–1024, 14 p., https://doi.org/10.3133/ofr20201024.

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Year Published: 2020

Human dimensions considerations in wildlife disease management

In 1943, Aldo Leopold observed that the real problem of wildlife management is not how to handle wildlife, but how to manage humans. As with any other aspect of wildlife management, social sciences can improve understanding the human dimensions of wildlife disease management (WDM). Human activities have accelerated the emergence of wildlife...

Richgels, Katherine L. D.; Gibbs, Samantha E.J.; Wild, Margaret A.; Leong, Kirsten; Decker, Daniel J.
Leong, K.M, and Decker, D.J., 2020, Human dimensions considerations in wildlife disease management: U.S. Geological Survey Techniques and Methods, book 15, chap. C8, 21 p., https://doi.org/10.3133/tm15C8.

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Year Published: 2020

The effects of management practices on grassland birds—Merlin (Falco columbarius)

The key to Merlin (Falco columbarius) management is maintaining an interspersion of groves of deciduous or coniferous trees for nesting and open grasslands for hunting. Merlins do not build their own nests but rather use former nests of other bird species, including those of corvids (crows, ravens, and magpies) and accipitrids (hawks). In recent...

Konrad, Paul M.; Shaffer, Jill A.; Igl, Lawrence D.
Konrad, P.M., Shaffer, J.A., and Igl, L.D., 2020, The effects of management practices on grassland birds—Merlin (Falco columbarius), chap. R of Johnson, D.H., Igl, L.D., Shaffer, J.A., and DeLong, J.P., eds., The effects of management practices on grassland birds: U.S. Geological Survey Professional Paper 1842, 21 p., https://doi.org/10.3133/pp1842R.