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The Ecosystems Mission Area provides impartial science information and tools to the Nation’s natural resource managers, with particular focus on the science needs of the Department of the Interior (DOI) and DOI bureaus to manage species, lands and priority ecosystems; fulfill treaty obligations; respond to and reduce threats to natural resources; and manage mineral and energy resources.
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Hierarchical Models for Computing Inferences About Species Assemblages Subject to Imperfect Detection
USGS is developing strategies to model species assemblages to allow inferences to be made about individual species, local communities of species, or for an entire metacommunity of species - while accounting for errors in species detection during sampling.
Connectivity of Tropical Marine Ecosystems: Understanding Biodiversity and Trophic Relationships in the Virgin Islands and Puerto Rico
Marine reserves and protected areas in the U.S. Virgin Islands and Puerto Rico encompass a variety of tropical ecosystems, including coral reefs, mangroves, and seagrass beds, but questions remain regarding how effective these areas are at preserving and protecting the habitats and species they encompass. USGS and collaborators address this question by examining the biodiversity and food web...
Assessing the Past and Potential Future Impacts of Salt Water Intrusion on Tidal Swamp Habitat along the South Atlantic Coast
Using historical aerial photogrammetry, satellite imagery, or recent vegetation mapping efforts, as well as various models, USGS investigates salt water intrusion impacts on coastal habitats along the southern Atlantic coast.
Green-Tree Reservoir management practices within the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service National Wildlife Refuge System
Green-Tree Reservoirs are used as a management tool by National Wildlife Refuges throughout the Southeast United States, but data suggests that forest productivity has declined in these areas. USGS investigates the effects of climate and flooding on tree growth and mortality to assist refuge managers adapt management strategies.
Establishing Explicit Biological Objectives to Guide Strategic Habitat Conservation for the Gulf Coast
To inform conservation efforts for the Gulf Coast, USGS is developing a suite of decision support tools to provide explicit population and habitat objectives.
The federally protected Atlantic Coast Piping Plover relies on habitats that were affected by Hurricane Sandy. USGS works to understand how these changes have affected nesting habitat and the reproductive success of the shorebird.
An Inventory and Comparative Study of Bees, A Keystone Ecological Group in the Endangered Coastal Prairie of Louisiana
Much of Louisiana's coastal prairie has been converted to rice and sugarcane cultivation. USGS is inventorying bee populations in these areas to explore how effective restoration efforts have been.
USGS' and Loyola University New Orleans' innovative research techniques played a role in the decision to downlist the Okaloosa Darter, a freshwater fish endemic to northwest Florida, from Endangered to Threatened.
Wetlands along the Gulf of Mexico coast play an important role in the global carbon cycle, but as they rapidly convert to open water, their potential for carbon storage is declining. USGS is working to provide accurate, long-term marsh soil carbon sequestration rates.
Wetlands are often classified by their vegetation, which can help scientists track how these landscapes change over time. USGS turns to unsupervised artificial neural networks to help guide this classification process.
Aquatic invasive species (AIS) are aquatic organisms that move into ecosystems beyond their natural, historic range and cause severe and irreversible damage to the habitats they invade. Most AIS arrive as a direct result of human activity, such as boating and angling. The threat of AIS introduction is especially high in the Greater Yellowstone Area, as humans from all over the world come to...
Dongting Lake, one of the wetlands that make up the floodplains of China's Yangtze River, is important habitat for migratory waterfowl and other wildlife. However, the re-engineering of the water way and the intensification of agricultural practices has contributed to changes in hydrology and sedimentation. USGS and partners from China are assessing the potential impact of these changes to the...
A simple web-based tool to compare freshwater fish data collected using AFS standard methods
The American Fisheries Society (AFS) recently published Standard Methods for Sampling North American Freshwater Fishes. Enlisting the expertise of 284 scientists from 107 organizations throughout Canada, Mexico, and the United States, this text was developed to facilitate comparisons of fish data across regions or time. Here we describe...Bonar, Scott A.; Mercado-Silva, Norman; Rahr, Matt; Torrey, Yuta T.; Cate, Averill
Restored agricultural wetlands in Central Iowa: habitat quality and amphibian response
Amphibians are declining throughout the United States and worldwide due, partly, to habitat loss. Conservation practices on the landscape restore wetlands to denitrify tile drainage effluent and restore ecosystem services. Understanding how water quality, hydroperiod, predation, and disease affect amphibians in restored wetlands is central to...Reeves, Rebecca A.; Pierce, Clay; Smalling, Kelly L. ; Klaver, Robert W.; Vandever, Mark W.; Battaglin, William A.; Muths, Erin L.
A framework to assess biogeochemical response to ecosystem disturbance using nutrient partitioning ratios
Disturbances affect almost all terrestrial ecosystems, but it has been difficult to identify general principles regarding these influences. To improve our understanding of the long-term consequences of disturbance on terrestrial ecosystems, we present a conceptual framework that analyzes disturbances by their biogeochemical impacts. We posit that...Kranabetter, J. Marty; McLauchlan, Kendra K.; Enders, Sara K.; Fraterrigo, Jennifer M.; Higuera, Philip E.; Morris, Jesse L.; Rastetter, Edward B.; Barnes, Rebecca; Buma, Brian; Gavin, Daniel G.; Gerhart, Laci M.; Gillson, Lindsey; Hietz, Peter; Mack, Michelle C.; McNeil, Brenden; Perakis, Steven
Phylogenetic relationships of Iranian infectious hematopoietic necrosis virus of rainbow trout (Oncorhynchus mykiss) based on the glycoprotein gene
Infectious hematopoietic necrosis virus (IHNV), a member of family Rhabdoviridae and genus Novirhabdoviridae, causes a highly lethal disease of salmon and trout. In Iran IHNV was first detected in 2001 on farms rearing rainbow trout (Oncorhynchus mykiss). To evaluate the genetic relationships of IHNV from northern and western Iran, the sequences...Adel, Milad; Amiri, Alireza Babaalian; Dada, Maryam; Kurath, Gael; Laktarashi, Bahram; Ghajari, Amrolah; Breyta, Rachel
Principles underlying the epizootiology of viral hemorrhagic septicemia in Pacific herring and other fishes throughout the North Pacific Ocean
Although viral hemorrhagic septicemia virus (VHSV) typically occurs at low prevalence and intensity in natural populations of Pacific herring (Clupea pallasii) and other marine fishes in the Northeast Pacific Ocean, epizootics of the resulting disease (VHS) periodically occur, often in association with observed fish kills. Here we identify a list...Hershberger, Paul K.; Garver, Kyle A.; Winton, James R.
The conservation genetics juggling act: Integrating genetics and ecology, science and policy
The field of conservation genetics, when properly implemented, is a constant juggling act integrating molecular genetics, ecology, and demography with applied aspects concerning managing declining species or implementing conservation laws and policies. This young field has grown substantially since the 1980’s following development of the...Haig, Susan M.; Miller, Mark P.; Bellinger, Renee; Draheim, Hope M.; Mercer, Dacey; Mullins, Thomas D.
Egg laying sequence influences egg mercury concentrations and egg size in three bird species: Implications for contaminant monitoring programs
Bird eggs are commonly used in contaminant monitoring programs and toxicological risk assessments, but intra-clutch variation and sampling methodology could influence interpretability. We examined the influence of egg laying sequence on egg mercury concentrations and burdens in American avocets, black-necked stilts, and Forster's terns. The...Ackerman, Joshua T.; Eagles-Smith, Collin A.; Herzog, Mark P.; Yee, Julie L.; Hartman, C. Alex
Flexible risk metrics for identifying and monitoring conservation-priority species
Region-specific conservation programs should have objective, reliable metrics for species prioritization and progress evaluation that are customizable to the goals of a program, easy to comprehend and communicate, and standardized across time. Regional programs may have vastly different goals, spatial coverage, or management agendas, and one-size-...Stanton, Jessica C.; Semmens, Brice X.; McKann, Patrick C.; Will, Tom; Thogmartin, Wayne E.
Effects of dam removal on Tule Fall Chinook salmon spawning habitat in the White Salmon River, Washington
Condit Dam is one of the largest hydroelectric dams ever removed in the USA. Breached in a single explosive event in October 2011, hundreds-of-thousands of cubic metres of sediment washed down the White Salmon River onto spawning grounds of a threatened species, Columbia River tule fall Chinook salmon Oncorhynchus tshawytscha. We investigated over...Hatten, James R.; Batt, Thomas R.; Skalicky, Joseph J.; Engle, Rod; Barton, Gary J.; Fosness, Ryan L.; Warren, Joe
Effects of temperature on Renibacterium salmoninarum infection and transmission potential in Chinook salmon, Oncorhynchus tshawytscha (Walbaum)
Renibacterium salmoninarum is a significant pathogen of salmonids and the causative agent of bacterial kidney disease (BKD). Water temperature affects the replication rate of pathogens and the function of the fish immune system to influence the progression of disease. In addition, rapid shifts in temperature may serve as stressors that reduce...Purcell, Maureen K.; McKibben, Constance L.; Pearman-Gillman, Schuyler; Elliott, Diane G.; Winton, James R.
Evaluating abundance and trends in a Hawaiian avian community using state-space analysis
Estimating population abundances and patterns of change over time are important in both ecology and conservation. Trend assessment typically entails fitting a regression to a time series of abundances to estimate population trajectory. However, changes in abundance estimates from year-to-year across time are due to both true variation in...Camp, Richard J.; Brinck, Kevin W.; Gorresen, P.M.; Paxton, Eben H.
Diagnostic and model dependent uncertainty of simulated Tibetan permafrost area
We perform a land-surface model intercomparison to investigate how the simulation of permafrost area on the Tibetan Plateau (TP) varies among six modern stand-alone land-surface models (CLM4.5, CoLM, ISBA, JULES, LPJ-GUESS, UVic). We also examine the variability in simulated permafrost area and distribution introduced by five different...Wang, A.; Moore, J.C.; Cui, Xingquan; Ji, D.; Li, Q.; Zhang, N.; Wang, C.; Zhang, S.; Lawrence, D.M.; McGuire, A.D.; Zhang, W.; Delire, C.; Koven, C.; Saito, K.; MacDougall, A.; Burke, E.; Decharme, B.
Permanent Site: H1 East Transect; Depth: 5.2 Meters (Feet 17.0); Distance from river mouth: 2.4 Kilometers (1.5 Miles) east; Pre/Post Dam Removal: 1 year pre-dam removal; Lat/Long: 48.1479177,-123.53472865; Site Description: This is a shallow site and one of the farthest removed from the effects of the sediment plume outside of the control sites. Substrate is mainly gravel...
A meltwater stonefly larva (Lednia tumana) sits on a cobbled snow fed stream in Glacier National Park. The species is threatened by climate warming induced glacier and snow loss and has been petitioned for protection under the U.S. Endangered Species Act due to climate-change-induced habitat loss.
Catching fish to sample for genetic testing in Glacier National Park.
Brewer's sparrow (Spizella breweri) wing spread close up.
Side view of Brewer's sparrow (Spizella breweri) in USGS field worker's hand.
Back view of Brewer's sparrow (Spizella breweri) in USGS field worker's hand.
Two Brewer's sparrow (Spizella breweri) chicks and one egg in nest, Steens Mountain, SE Oregon.
Two Brewer's sparrow (Spizella breweri) chicks and one egg in nest, Steens Mountain, SE Oregon.
Aspen regeneration after stand-replacing fire in a seral aspen-conifer stand in the Jarbidge Mountains, Nevada
A curious manatee calf encounters a snorkeling scientist as the USGS Sirenia Project conducts fieldwork at Crystal River National Wildlife Refuge, Florida