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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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Filter Total Items: 714
Date published: March 17, 2016
Status: Active

Alabama Strategic Habitat Unit (SHU)

Alabama is host to a variety of freshwater species, many of which are critically imperiled. USGS and partners focus conservation activities in high priority watersheds throughout the state.

Date published: March 17, 2016

Using Environmental DNA for Burmese Python Detection Probabilities and Range-Delimitation in Southern Florida

Current tools for detection of Burmese pythons in South Florida have resulted in low detection rates. Environmental DNA - eDNA - has shown to be effective at detecting these invasive snakes, and can help to determine range limits for the species, information that is critical for management and control efforts. 

Date published: March 16, 2016
Status: Active

Wetland Evaluation and Sediment Elevation Monitoring and Analysis in the Indian River Lagoon

To better understand coastal response to sea-level rise, USGS is monitoring coastal wetland sediment elevations along Florida's east coast.

Contacts: Gordon Anderson
Date published: March 15, 2016
Status: Completed

COMPLETED: Using thermal imagery to assess wolf hairloss from sarcoptic mange

Researchers at NOROCK and their partners used thermal cameras at the Grizzly and Wolf Discovery Center in Montana to assess the amount of heat lost under a range of environmental conditions with and without hair. These methods help scientists better understand how mange operates in wild wolves throughout the Greater...

Contacts: Paul Cross, Emily Almberg, Doug Smith, Adam Munn, Peter Hudson, John Heine, Dan Stahler, Shane Maloney
Date published: March 10, 2016

Translocation of imperiled fishes: Conservation introduction of threatened bull trout in Glacier National Park

There is an urgent need to consider more aggressive and direct interventions for conservation of freshwater fishes threatened by invasive species, habitat loss, and climate change. Conservation introduction - moving species to areas outside their previous range, where conditions are predicted to be more suitable - is one type of translocation strategy that fisheries managers can use to...

Date published: March 10, 2016
Status: Active

Contaminants Assessments in the Coral Reefs of the Virgin Islands National Park and Virgin Islands Coral Reef National Monument

Coral reefs around the world are exposed to a number of environmental contaminants. USGS researchers investigate the issue of contamination on the reefs around the U.S. Virgin Islands.

Date published: March 1, 2016

Prevalence Rates of Snake Fungal Disease and its Population-Level Impacts in a Snake Assemblage in Southwest Louisiana

In the last twenty years, an extraordinary number of fungal and fungal-like diseases have caused some of the most severe die-offs and extinctions ever observed in wild species.

Contacts: Hardin Waddle, Ph.D., Brad M Glorioso, Dr. Jeffrey M. Lorch
Date published: March 1, 2016

National Park Monitoring Project

We fund complex, often multi-year, research efforts on priority topics (themes) identified by the National Park Service (NPS) Inventory and Monitoring Program. Our efforts complement the Natural Resources Preservation Project (NRPP), which focuses on funding short-term, tactical research to meet natural resource management needs identified by NPS.

Attribution: Ecosystems
Date published: February 29, 2016

Communicate and Educate

We facilitate public understanding of science and environmental change to build support for science and proactive adaptation to environmental change.

Attribution: Ecosystems
Date published: February 29, 2016

Adaptive Management

The Adaptive Management process offers a unique mix of management and science to "learn from doing" and decrease uncertainty over time.

Date published: February 29, 2016

Environmental DNA (eDNA)

Researchers sample water, soil or air to look for presence of Environmental DNA (eDNA), genetic material shed from living or once live organisms whose presence is difficult to detect under traditional sampling methods.

Attribution: Ecosystems
Date published: February 29, 2016


USGS uses cutting edge research and technologies to answer biological questions at a molecular level.

Filter Total Items: 2,930
Year Published: 2015

Assessing gull abundance and food availability in urban parking lots

Feeding birds is a common activity throughout the world; yet, little is known about the extent of feeding gulls in urban areas. We monitored 8 parking lots in central Massachusetts, USA, during the fall and winter of 2011 to 2013 in 4 monitoring sessions to document the number of gulls present, the frequency of human–gull feeding...

Clark, Daniel E.; Whitney, Jillian J.; MacKenzie, Kenneth G.; Koenen, Kiana K. G.; DeStefano, Stephen

Year Published: 2015

First satellite tracks of the Endangered black-capped petrel

The black-capped petrel Pterodroma hasitata is an endangered seabird with fewer than 2000 breeding pairs restricted to a few breeding sites in Haiti and the Dominican Republic. To date, use areas at sea have been determined entirely from vessel-based surveys and opportunistic sightings and, as such, spatial and temporal gaps in our...

Jodice, Patrick G.R.; Ronconi, Robert A.; Rupp, Ernst; Wallace, George E.; Satgé, Yvan

Year Published: 2015

Science information to support Missouri River Scaphirhynchus albus (pallid sturgeon) effects analysis

The Missouri River Pallid Sturgeon Effects Analysis (EA) was commissioned by the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers to develop a foundation of understanding of how pallid sturgeon (Scaphirhynchus albus) population dynamics are linked to management actions in the Missouri River. The EA consists of several steps: (1) development of comprehensive,...

Jacobson, Robert B.; Parsley, Michael J.; Annis, Mandy L.; Colvin, Michael E.; Welker, Timothy L.; James, Daniel A.
Jacobson, R.B., Parsley, M.J., Annis, M.L., Colvin, M.E., Welker, T.L., and James, D.A., 2015, Science information to support Missouri River Scaphirhynchus albus (pallid sturgeon) effects analysis: U.S. Geological Survey Open-File Report 2015–1226, 78 p., http://dx.doi.org/10.3133/ofr20151226.

Year Published: 2015

Effects of drought and fire on bird communities of the Kofa National Wildlife Refuge, Arizona

Executive Summary The U.S. Government created the Kofa National Wildlife Refuge (Kofa NWR) in 1939 in response to a citizen campaign to improve desert bighorn sheep populations in Arizona. The Kofa NWR is mountainous and remote, and its management by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (FWS) keeps anthropogenic disturbance levels low. As such,...

McCreedy, Chris; van Riper, Charles; Esque, Todd C.; Darrah, Abigail J.
McCreedy, C., van Riper, C., III, Esque, T.C., and Darrah, A.J., 2015, Effects of drought and fire on bird communities of the Kofa National Wildlife Refuge, Arizona: U.S. Geological Survey Open-File Report 2015–1240, 34 p., http://dx.doi.org/10.3133/ofr20151240.

Year Published: 2015

Water quality trends in the Blackwater River watershed, West Virginia

An understanding of historic and current water quality is needed to manage and improve aquatic communities within the Blackwater River watershed, WV. The Blackwater River, which historically offered an excellent Salvelinus fontinalis (Brook Trout) fishery, has been affected by logging, coal mining, use of off-road vehicles, and land...

Smith, Jessica; Welsh, Stuart A.; Anderson, James T.; Fortney, Ronald H.

Year Published: 2015

Fish tag recovery from Anaho Island nesting colony, Pyramid Lake, Nevada

In 2001, tags applied to the federally endangered species cui-ui (Chasmistes cujus) to study their population dynamics were discovered strewn throughout the American White Pelican (Pelecanus erythrorhynchos) nesting colony on Anaho Island, Pyramid Lake, Nevada. Cui-ui are endemic to Pyramid Lake, and Anaho Island harbors one of North America’s...

Scoppettone, G. Gary; Fabes, Mark C.; Rissler, Peter H.; Withers, Donna
Scoppettone, G.G., Fabes, M.C., Rissler, P.H., and Withers, Donna, 2016, Fish tag recovery from Anaho Island nesting colony, Pyramid Lake, Nevada: U.S. Geological Survey Open-File Report 2015-1242, 28 p., http://dx.doi.org/10.3133/ofr20151242.

Year Published: 2015

Detection probabilities of electrofishing, hoop nets, and benthic trawls for fishes in two western North American rivers

Research comparing different sampling techniques helps improve the efficiency and efficacy of sampling efforts. We compared the effectiveness of three sampling techniques (small-mesh hoop nets, benthic trawls, boat-mounted electrofishing) for 30 species in the Green (WY, USA) and Kootenai (ID, USA) rivers by estimating conditional detection...

Smith, Christopher D.; Quist, Michael C.; Hardy, Ryan S.

Year Published: 2015

Avian disease and mosquito vectors in the Kahuku unit of Hawai`i Volcanoes National Park and Ka`u Forest Reserve

While avian disease has been well-studied in windward forests of Hawai‘i Island, there have been few studies in leeward Ka‘u. We surveyed four altitudinal sites ranging from 1,200 to 2,200 m asl in the Kahuku Unit of Hawai‘i Volcanoes National Park (Kahuku) and three altitudinal sites ranging from 1,200 to 1,500 m asl in the Ka...

Gaudioso, Jacqueline; Lapointe, Dennis; Atkinson, Carter T.; Egan, Ariel N.
Gaudioso-Levita, J.M., D.A. LaPointe., C. T. Atkinson, and A.N. Egan. 2015. Avian disease and mosquito vectors in the Kahuku unit of Hawai`i Volcanoes National Park and Ka`u Forest Reserve. Hawaii Cooperative Studies Unit Technical Report. TR HCSU-070. University of Hawaii at Hilo, 45 pp.

Year Published: 2015

Taxonomic characterization of honey bee (Apis mellifera) pollen foraging based on non-overlapping paired-end sequencing of nuclear ribosomal loci

Identifying plant taxa that honey bees (Apis mellifera) forage upon is of great apicultural interest, but traditional methods are labor intensive and may lack resolution. Here we evaluate a high-throughput genetic barcoding approach to characterize trap-collected pollen from multiple North Dakota apiaries across multiple years. We used the...

Cornman, Robert S.; Otto, Clint R. V.; Iwanowicz, Deborah D.; Pettis, Jeffery S
Cornman, R Scott; Otto, Clint RV; Iwanowicz, Deborah; Pettis, Jeffery S. Taxonomic Characterization of Honey Bee (Apis mellifera) Pollen Foraging Based on Non-Overlapping Paired-End Sequencing of Nuclear Ribosomal Loci. PLoS One 10.12: e0145365

Year Published: 2015

Functional response of ungulate browsers in disturbed eastern hemlock forests

Ungulate browsing in predator depleted North American landscapes is believed to be causing widespread tree recruitment failures. However, canopy disturbances and variations in ungulate densities are sources of heterogeneity that can buffer ecosystems against herbivory. Relatively little is known about the functional response (the rate of...

DeStefano, Stephen

Year Published: 2015

Infecting Pacific Herring with Ichthyophonus sp. in the laboratory

The protistan parasite Ichthyophonus sp. occurs in coastal populations of Pacific Herring Clupea pallasii throughout the northeast Pacific region, but the route(s) by which these planktivorous fish become infected is unknown. Several methods for establishing Ichthyophonus infections in laboratory challenges were examined. Infections were most...

Hershberger, Paul; Hart, Lucas; Mackenzie, Ashley; Yanney, M.L.; Conway, Carla M.; Elliott, Diane G.
Hershberger, P.K., L.M. Hart, A.H. MacKenzie, M.L. Yanney, C.M. Conway, and D.G. Elliott. 2015. Infecting Pacific Herring with Ichthyophonus sp. in the Laboratory. J. Aquat. Anim. Health 27(4): 217-221.

Year Published: 2015

Estimating mercury exposure of piscivorous birds and sport fish using prey fish monitoring

Methylmercury is a global pollutant of aquatic ecosystems, and monitoring programs need tools to predict mercury exposure of wildlife. We developed equations to estimate methylmercury exposure of piscivorous birds and sport fish using mercury concentrations in prey fish. We collected original data on western grebes (Aechmophorus occidentalis) and...

Ackerman, Joshua T.; Hartman, C. Alex; Eagles-Smith, Collin A.; Herzog, Mark P.; Davis, Jay; Ichikawa, Gary; Bonnema, Autumn
Ackerman, JT, CA Hartman, CA Eagles-Smith, MP Herzog, J Davis, G Ichikawa, A Bonnema. 2015. Estimating Mercury Exposure of Piscivorous Birds and Sport Fish Using Prey Fish Monitoring. Environmental Science and Technology 49: 13596-13604. DOI: 10.1021/acs.est.5b02691

Filter Total Items: 682
Lake Whitefish
November 4, 2006

Lake Whitefish

Lake Whitefish from our fall survey.

Image: Brewer's Sparrow Surveys
October 9, 2006

Brewer's Sparrow Surveys

Conducing Brewer's sparrow (Spizella breweri) surveys in sagebrush habitat, Owyhee Moutains, SW Idaho.

Image: Brewer's Sparrow Nest in Sagebrush
September 10, 2006

Brewer's Sparrow Nest in Sagebrush

Top view of Brewer's sparrow (Spizella breweri) nest in sagebrush (Artemisia tridentata), Owyhee Mountains, SW Idaho.

Image: Brewer's Sparrow Nest
June 15, 2006

Brewer's Sparrow Nest

Unhatched eggs in Brewer's sparrow (Spizella breweri) nest.

Sagebrush in central Idaho
June 15, 2006

Sagebrush in central Idaho

Sagebrush in central Idaho.

Big sagebrush near Parawon, UT
June 5, 2006

Big sagebrush near Parawon, UT

Big sagebrush near Parawon, UT.

Varied Thrush perched on a branch
June 4, 2006

Varied Thrush perched on a branch

The Varied Thrush is a year-round native of Pacific Northwest forests. Its diet consists of mostly insects in the summer and berries and wild fruit in the winter.

Image: Radio Marked Sage-grouse Hen
April 18, 2006

Radio Marked Sage-grouse Hen

A sage-grouse hen ready for release after being radio-marked and having an identification band placed on her left leg.

Attribution: Ecosystems
Image: Brewer's Sparrow in Hand
March 4, 2006

Brewer's Sparrow in Hand

Brewer's sparrow (Spizella breweri) held by field technician.

Image: Brewer's Sparrow Being Held for Assessment
February 26, 2006

Brewer's Sparrow Being Held for Assessment

John Warzybok records data whille Caroline Poli secures a Brewer's sparrow (Spizella breweri) for assessment, White Sands Missile Range, New Mexico.

Image: Measurement of Brewer's Sparrow
February 26, 2006

Measurement of Brewer's Sparrow

Brewer's sparrow (Spizella breweri) being measured, White Sands Missile Range, New Mexico.

Image: Brewer's Sparrows Being Assessed
February 26, 2006

Brewer's Sparrows Being Assessed

Caroline Poli and John Warzybok assess Brewer's sparrows (Spizella breweri) at White Sands Missile Range, New Mexico.