The Ecosystems Mission Area 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. Below you will find our Programs and science topics.

Climate Adaptation Science Centers

From the expansion of invasive species to wildfire, from drought to sea-level rise, changes in climate have created new and evolving challenges for our nation’s resource managers and communities. Our science helps managers of fish, wildlife, and ecosystems understand these impacts and strategically adapt to changing conditions. 


Climate Research and Development Program

The Climate Research and Development (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.


Cooperative Research Units

Established in 1935, our mission is our hallmark: meet the actionable science needs of our cooperators, provide technical assistance, and develop the future workforce through graduate education/mentoring. The Coop Units are located on 40 universities in 38 states. They are called Coop Units because each cooperator plays a role in the staffing, funding and directing the units. 


Energy & Wildlife

Energy development is booming across the United States, helping to secure plentiful energy to meet our nation’s needs.  Yet energy generation can sometimes have adverse effects on ecosystems and wildlife. USGS scientists are studying the effects of energy infrastructure on wildlife, and are working to develop the technical and management options that can reduce risks to wildlife and industry.


Environmental Health Program

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.


Environments Program

USGS Environments Program scientists conduct research for the restoration and management of 500 million acres managed by DOI. Scientists work in estuaries, coastlines, deserts, grasslands, rivers and forests from Alaska to Florida to predict how systems respond to change, evaluate restoration, improve habitat for biodiversity and provide services including clean water, food, and storm protection.

Mule deer investigating a game camera in Madison Valley, Montana.

Fish & Wildlife Disease

USGS is the lead Federal agency for wildlife disease research and surveillance. Our wildlife health capabilities provide research, information, and technical assistance needed to manage wildlife through disease events. Congress and our partners rely on our science to make informed decisions about fish and wildlife disease policy, planning and management.


Fisheries Program

Our fisheries researchers are world-class scientists. They conduct cutting-edge research to provide fisheries resource managers the scientific information they need to protect, restore, and enhance our Nation’s fisheries and their habitats.


Invasive Species Program

More than 6,500 nonindigenous species are now established in the United States, posing risks to native plants, animals, microorganisms, valued ecosystems, and human and wildlife health. In fact, the current annual environmental, economic, and health-related costs of invasive species exceed those of all other natural disasters combined.


Sage-grouse & Sagebrush Ecosystem

USGS has been a leader in sagebrush ecosystem research and continues to meet the priority science needs of management agencies. We bring a diversity of expertise and capabilities to address a wide variety of science needs at multiple spatial scales and are committed to providing high quality science to our management partners.


Status and Trends Program

To protect, conserve, and restore the living resources—plants, animals, habitats, ecosystems—entrusted to their care, land and resource managers must understand the condition, or status (e.g., abundance, distribution, productivity, health), of those resources as well as their trends (i.e., how these variables change over time).


Wildlife Program

We provide rigorous and unbiased information on migratory birds, terrestrial and marine mammals, amphibians and reptiles, terrestrial plants, threatened and endangered species, wildlife disease, and on wildlife issues resulting from human activities. Our science contributes toward a more complete understanding of the Nation’s ecosystems and landscapes.