Ecosystems

About the Ecosystems Mission Area

The USGS is sought out by thousands of partners and stakeholders across the United States for our expertise in earth and biological science that supports public resources in wild and urban spaces, and all landscapes in-between. 

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Ecosystems and the wild things that live in them are the foundation of our conservation heritage and an economic asset to current and future generations of Americans. Healthy ecosystems support living things and natural processes that bring prosperity and enjoyment for all Americans. 

The Ecosystems Mission Area (EMA) is considered the biological research arm of the U.S. Department of Interior and provides science to help America achieve sustainable management and conservation of biological resources. This work is done within the broader mission of the USGS to serve the Nation with science that advances understanding of our natural resources and inform land and water stewardship. 

The EMA is pleased to announce that as of September 4th, 2020, our mission area now includes components of the former Land Resources and Environmental Health Mission Areas. This alignment brings together related and complementary USGS science under one  umbrella. The EMA has also streamlined its existing programs, and our research portfolio now includes the following: 

  • The Species Management Research Program provides science that is used by managers, policy makers, and others for decisions that protect, conserve, and enhance healthy fish and wildlife populations across the United States and beyond.  
  • The Land Management Research Program conducts science to effectively manage lands, waters, and priority ecosystems on millions acres across the Nation that includes public lands such as national parks and refuges, and other critical landscapes that support a biodiversity of  fish, wildlife, and plant species, as well as thriving economies. 
  • The Biological Threats Research Program delivers science to protect public safety, property, and ecosystems from invasive plants and animals and infectious fish and wildlife diseases that pose significant ecologic and economic threats to the resources of the United States 
  • The Environmental Health Program (Toxic Substances Hydrology and Contaminant Biology) supports integrated natural science expertise and capabilities across the USGS related to environmental contaminants and pathogens. This science informs stakeholder decisions to manage fish and wildlife health and provides environmental exposure information to partners in public health.  
  • The National and Regional Climate Adaptation Science Centers work directly with partners and stakeholders on regional issues related to climate impacts and adaptation strategies. The Land Change Science program (formerly the Climate R&D program) strives to advance the understanding of the physical, chemical, and biological components of the Earth system, the causes and consequences of climate and land use change, and the vulnerability and resilience of the Earth system to such changes.
  • The Cooperative Research Units conduct science to enhance graduate education in fisheries and wildlife sciences and to facilitate research and technical assistance between natural resource agencies and universities on topics of mutual concern.