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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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The objectives of this study are to (1) investigate whether the immune system will respond to chemical stressors, such as new flame retardant compounds, and (2) determine if such chemical stressors influence white blood cells (WBC) responses after exposure to a viral pathogen mimicking bird flu.
Past and Future Modeling of Ecological Indicators for the South Atlantic Landscape Conservation Cooperative
The South Atlantic Landscape Conservation Cooperative (LCC) has developed a Conservation Blueprint: a “living spatial plan to conserve natural and cultural resources for future generations.” This blueprint is a data-driven plan based on terrestrial, freshwater, marine, and cross-ecosystem indicators to measure the overall health of South...
Developing effective living shoreline restoration projects that can withstand hurricanes and storms requires a better understanding of how restoration structures reduce the impact of wave and current energy on marsh edges in estuaries and bays. Without this knowledge, existing living shoreline projects and adaptive management measures are more likely to fail, decreasing the possibility for...
The Gulf Coast Joint Venture (GCJV) was established in 1988 as a result of the North American Waterfowl Management Plan, which espouses the restoration of continental waterfowl populations through conservation partnerships in priority habitat regions. Since that time GCJV partners have expanded their mission and purpose to include the provision of habitat to support other priority bird species...
Terrestrial Riparian Vegetation Monitoring: How One Square Meter Can Tell the Story of 245 River Miles
The goal of Grand Canyon Monitoring and Research Center’s (part of the Southwest Biological Science Center) riparian vegetation monitoring program is to assess changes and trends in plant species composition and cover and relate those changes to Glen Canyon Dam operations, river hydrology, climate, and geomorphology. Monitoring is done by annual field-data collection on plant cover and...
Riparian areas are conspicuous belts of dense, green vegetation along streams and rivers, and can be considered “ribbons of life”. Despite covering less than 2 percent of the land area in the southwestern U.S., riparian areas tend to have high species diversity and population density, making them valuable to managers, scientists, and the public. These unique ecosystems act as a link between...
Botulism is a natural toxin produced by a bacterium ( Clostridium botulinum ) commonly found in the soil. There are several types of botulism toxin some of which can affect humans who eat improperly canned foods. Birds get their own kind of botulism (Type C in Hawaii) that does not affect humans. Botulism type C is concentrated in aquatic invertebrates that filter feed sediments or...
Toxoplasmosis is caused by a microscopic parasites called a protozoan. The specific name of the protozoan that causes toxoplasmosis is Toxoplasma gondii. T. gondii reproduces in the gut of cats (all members of the Felidae are susceptible). Cats shed the parasite in their feces, and the parasite is ingested by other animals (intermediate hosts) causing disease. Cats can...
The USGS National Wildlife Health Center (NWHC) provides quantitative support and technical assistance to state and federal wildlife managers and partners to better understand or predict the impact of disease on wildlife populations.
The USGS National Wildlife Health Center (NWHC) works on developing various disease management tools, including the development of vaccines. Our current work focuses on vaccines for sylvatic plague, white-nose syndrome, and rabies as disease control strategies.
Invasive aquatic species clog waterways and are a concern for water managers. Once established, invasive aquatic species impact local ecosystems, recreation, and impede travel. As part of the USGS effort to empower our partners (Interior, Federal and State agencies), the USGS Nonindigenous Aquatic Species database team has botanists ...
Invasive plants (e.g. leafy spurge, cheatgrass, brome, and buffelgrass) have dramatic impacts on Western landscapes through increased fire vulnerability, changes in ecosystem structure and diminished livestock grazing value. USGS researchers are working with DOI land managers, and federal and state partners to find solutions to this growing problem.
Substrate and flow characteristics associated with White Sturgeon recruitment in the Columbia River Basin
A study was conducted to identify habitat characteristics associated with age 0+ White Sturgeon (Acipenser transmontanus Richardson, 1863) recruitment in three reaches of the Columbia River Basin: Skamania reach (consistent recruitment), John Day reach (intermittent/inconsistent recruitment), and Kootenai reach (no recruitment). Our modeling...Hatten, James R.; Parsley, Michael; Barton, Gary; Batt, Thomas; Fosness, Ryan L.
Use of created snags by cavity‐nesting birds across 25 years
Snags are important habitat features for many forest‐dwelling species, so reductions in the number of snags can lead to the loss of biodiversity in forest ecosystems. Intentional snag creation is often used in managed forests to mitigate the long‐term declines of naturally created snags, yet information regarding the use of snags by wildlife...Barry, Amy M.; Hagar, Joan; Rivers, James W.
Effects of experimental removal of Barred Owls on population demography of Northern Spotted Owls in Washington and Oregon—2017 progress report
Populations of Northern Spotted Owls (Strix occidentalis caurina; hereinafter referred to as Spotted Owl) are declining throughout this subspecies’ geographic range. Evidence indicates that competition with invading populations of Barred Owls (S. varia) has contributed significantly to those declines. A pilot study in California showed that...Wiens, J. David; Dugger, Katie M.; Lesmeister, Damon B.; Dilione, Krista E.; Simon, David C.
MonitoringResources.org—Supporting coordinated and cost-effective natural resource monitoring across organizations
Natural resource managers who oversee the Nation’s resources require data to support informed decision-making at a variety of spatial and temporal scales that often cross typical jurisdictional boundaries such as states, agency regions, and watersheds. These data come from multiple agencies, programs, and sources, often with their own methods and...Bayer, Jennifer M.; Scully, Rebecca A.; Weltzin, Jake F.
Effects of the proposed California WaterFix North Delta Diversion on survival of juvenile Chinook salmon (Oncorhynchus tshawytscha) in the Sacramento-San Joaquin River Delta, northern California
The California Department of Water Resources and Bureau of Reclamation propose new water intake facilities on the Sacramento River in northern California that would convey some of the water for export to areas south of the Sacramento-San Joaquin River Delta (hereinafter referred to as the Delta) through tunnels rather than through the Delta. The...Perry, Russell W.; Pope, Adam C.
Examining speed versus selection in connectivity models using elk migration as an example
ContextLandscape resistance is vital to connectivity modeling and frequently derived from resource selection functions (RSFs). RSFs estimate relative probability of use and tend to focus on understanding habitat preferences during slow, routine animal movements (e.g., foraging). Dispersal and migration, however, can produce rarer, faster movements...Brennan, Angela; Hanks, Ephraim M.; Merkle, Jerod A.; Cole, Eric K.; Dewey, Sarah R.; Courtemanch, Alyson B.; Cross, Paul C.
Ecological genomics predicts climate vulnerability in an endangered southwestern songbird
Few regions have been more severely impacted by climate change in the USA than the Desert Southwest. Here, we use ecological genomics to assess the potential for adaptation to rising global temperatures in a widespread songbird, the willow flycatcher (Empidonax traillii), and find the endangered desert southwestern subspecies (E. t. extimus) most...Ruegg, Kristin; Bay, Rachael A.; Anderson, Eric C.; Saracco, James F.; Harrigan, Ryan J.; Whitfield, Mary J.; Paxton, Eben H.; Smith, Thomas B.
Ecosystems science: Genes to landscapes
Bountiful fisheries, healthy and resilient wildlife, flourishing forests and vibrant grasslands are coveted resources that benefit all Americans. U.S. Geological Survey (USGS) science supports the conservation and management of the Nation’s fish and wildlife, and the landscapes they inhabit. Our biological resources—ecosystems and the wild things...
Characterization of Plasmodium relictum, a cosmopolitan agent of avian malaria
BackgroundMicroscopic research has shown that Plasmodium relictum is the most common agent of avian malaria. Recent molecular studies confirmed this conclusion and identified several mtDNA lineages, suggesting the existence of significant intra-species genetic variation or cryptic speciation. Most identified lineages have a broad range...Valkiunas, Gediminas; Ilgūnas, Mikas; Bukauskaitė, Dovilė; Fragner, Karin; Weissenböck, Herbert; Atkinson, Carter T.; Iezhova, Tatjana
Co‐occurrence dynamics of endangered Lower Keys marsh rabbits and free‐ranging domestic cats: Prey responses to an exotic predator removal program
The Lower Keys marsh rabbit (Sylvilagus palustris hefneri) is one of many endangered endemic species of the Florida Keys. The main threats are habitat loss and fragmentation from sea‐level rise, development, and habitat succession. Exotic predators such as free‐ranging domestic cats (Felis catus) pose an additional threat to these endangered small...Cove, Michael V.; Gardner, Beth; Simons, Theodore R.; O'Connell, Allan F.
Rivers are social–ecological systems: Time to integrate human dimensions into riverscape ecology and management
Incorporation of concepts from landscape ecology into understanding and managing riverine ecosystems has become widely known as riverscape ecology. Riverscape ecology emphasizes interactions among processes at different scales and their consequences for valued ecosystem components, such as riverine fishes. Past studies have focused strongly on...Dunham, Jason B.; Angermeier, Paul L.; Crausbay, Shelley D.; Cravens, Amanda; Gosnell, Hannah; McEvoy, Jamie; Moritz, Max A.; Raheem, Nejem; Sanford, Todd
Biology and impacts of Pacific Islands invasive species. 14. Sus scrofa the feral pig (Artiodactyla: Suidae)
Feral pigs (Sus scrofa L.) are perhaps the most abundant, widespread, and economically significant large introduced vertebrate across the Pacific island region. Unlike many other nonnative invasive species, feral pigs have both cultural and recreational importance in the region, complicating their management. Today, Pacific island feral pigs...Wehr, Nathaniel H. ; Hess, Steven C.; Litton, Creighton M.
Permanent Site: J1 West Transect; Depth: 9.2 Meters (30.2 Feet); Distance from river mouth: 6.6 Kilometers (4.1 Miles) east; Pre/Post Dam Removal: 6 years post-dam removal; Lat/Long: 48.13607725,-123.48002186; Site Description: This site is medium depth. Substrate is mainly a gravel/sand mixture. Visibility was poor this day. Both red (0:48, 1:25 seconds) and brown seaweed...
Permanent Site: C2 East Transect; Depth: 15.1 Meters (49.7 Feet); Distance from river mouth: 0.7 Kilometers (0.4 Miles); Pre/Post Dam Removal: 6 years post-dam removal; Lat/Long: 48.147841,-123.57596074; Site Description: One of our deepest sites. Substrate is all muddy sand. Both brown and red seaweeds are absent except for one acid kelp Desmarestia (0:38 seconds). Two...
Permanent Site: 4SP1 - East Transect; Depth: 5.5 Meters (18.1 Feet); Distance from river mouth: 0.8 Kilometers (0.5 Miles) East; Pre/Post Dam Removal: 6 years post-dam removal; Lat/Long: 48.15257, -123.556704; Site Description: The site has converted from gravel/cobble substrate to all sand. Since 2013, seaweed has been completely absent. However, this year three species...
Permanent Site: 4SP1 - West Transect; Depth: 6.2 Meters (20.2 Feet); Distance from river mouth: 0.8 Kilometers (0.5 Miles) East; Pre/Post Dam Removal: 6 years post-dam removal; Lat/Long: 48.15257, -123.557376; Site Description: This site has converted from gravel/cobble substrate to all sand. Since 2013, seaweed has been completely absent. However, this year six species of...
Permanent Control Site: GP2 East Transect; Depth: 13.2 Meters (43.2 Feet); Distance from river mouth: 18.8 Kilometers (11.7 Miles) east; Pre/Post Dam Removal: 6 years post-dam removal; Lat/Long: 48.12781102,-123.31645664; Site Description: This site was established as the eastern control. Substrate is mainly a gravel/sand mixture. A few large boulders are located off...
Permanent Control Site: GP2 West Transect; Depth: 12.7 Meters (41.6 Feet); Distance from river mouth: 18.8 Kilometers (11.6 Miles) east; Pre/Post Dam Removal: 6 years post-dam removal; Lat/Long: 48.12781102,-123.31712832; Site Description: This site was established as the eastern control. Substrate is mainly a gravel/sand/cobble mixture surrounding boulders. This year red...
American pika in the Northern Cascades. American pikas occupy talus slopes in mountain ecosystems throughout western North America.
Permanent Site: A2 East Transect; Depth: 12.9 Meters (42.3 Feet); Distance from river mouth: Kilometers 1.8 (1.1 Miles); Pre/Post Dam Removal: 6 years post-dam removal; Lat/Long: 48.14130295, -123.58766124; Site Description: One of our deeper sites at over 40 feet. Sediment is primarily sand/sandy mud. Five species of seaweeds are present though not abundant. The two most...
Permanent Site: A2 West Transect; Depth: 12.8 Meters (42.0 Feet); Distance from river mouth: Kilometers 1.8 (1.1 Miles); Pre/Post Dam Removal: 6 years post-dam removal; Lat/Long: 48.14130295, -123.5883331; Site Description: One of our deeper sites at over 40 feet. Sediment is primarily sand/sandy mud with scattered boulders. Seven species of seaweeds are present though not...
Permanent Site: C1 East Transect; Depth: 8.5 Meters (28.0 Feet); Distance from river mouth: 0.7 Kilometers (0.4 Miles); Pre/Post Dam Removal: 6 years post-dam removal; Lat/Long: 48.14525225,-123.57294101; Site Description: Substrate is entirely sand. Current was high and contained lots of drift seaweed and eelgrass (0:05 seconds). In 2016 all seaweeds were absent but this...
Permanent Site: C1 West Transect; Depth: 9.3 Meters (30.4 Feet); Distance from river mouth: 0.7 Kilometers (0.4 Miles); Pre/Post Dam Removal: 6 years post-dam removal; Lat/Long: 48.14525225,-123.57361291; Site Description: Substrate is entirely sand. Current was high and contained lots of drift seaweed and eelgrass (0:04, 0:38 seconds). Though seaweeds were absent in 2016...
Permanent Site: A1 East Transect; Depth: 7.7 Meters (25.4 Feet); Distance from river mouth: 1.8 Kilometers (1.1 Miles) West; Pre/Post Dam Removal: 6 years post-dam removal; Lat/Long: 48.13870775, -123.5855312; Site Description: Transect is in eastern part of Freshwater Bay. Sediment is primarily sand/sandy mud. Previous small boulders appear to still be buried. The sand on...
Handbook for sagebrush steppe restoration techniques can help sustain wildlife and western ecosystems
The sagebrush ecosystem in the western U.S is one of the largest ecosystems in North America, but it is also threatened from wildfire and invasive plants. “Restoration of these unique ecosystems will help sustain wildlife and livelihoods throughout the West," said David Pyke, the USGS ecologist and lead author of the final installment of a three-part sagebrush restoration handbook.
Olfactory Cues Provide Insight into Lamprey Behavior and Physiology
New research shows how river diversions may change water quality in estuaries.
A new study analyzes the genetic diversity and population structure of the California Ridgway’s rail, Rallus obsoletus, a state and federally-listed endangered bird. The results demonstrate that the so-called “rails” are experiencing negative genetic effects following more than a century of salt marsh habitat loss from agriculture, commercial salt production and urban development.
The U.S. Geological Survey is pleased to announce the selection of Dr. Christian Zimmerman as the new director of their Alaska Science Center in Anchorage, Alaska. Zimmerman succeeds Dr. Mark Shasby who held the position for the past six years.
Changes in rainfall and temperature are predicted to transform wetlands in the Gulf of Mexico and around the world within the century, a new study from the USGS and the University of Texas Rio Grande Valley concludes.
A new study published in PLOS ONE demonstrates that current conservation planning efforts for waterbird habitat in the Central Valley can likely compensate for habitat loss through the middle of the century.
Managing 246 million acres: new science-based tools support Bureau of Land Management’s landscape approach
The U.S. Geological Survey and the Bureau of Land Management today released a collaborative report with new information and tools to support effective management of millions of acres of BLM public lands. The report underscores the value of a landscape approach to management, and shows that the BLM manages some of the largest areas of intact public lands in the west.
Hundreds of articles have been written about the largest volcanic eruption in recorded history, at Indonesia’s Mt. Tambora just over 200 years ago. But for a small group of New England-based researchers, one more Tambora story needed to be told, one related to its catastrophic effects in the Gulf of Maine that may carry lessons for intertwined human-natural systems facing climate change today.
Internship Supports Youth, Tribes, and Fish
"It’s a grand slam for all involved,” said Dawn Childs, USGS Cooperative Fish and Wildlife Research Units. “Recent high school graduates with special needs get real-world experience while helping USGS scientists on projects ranging from grizzly bears and energy to historic documents and bird migration. And a school system gets to successfully train students to enter the workforce."