Mission Areas


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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: 757
Date published: May 10, 2018
Status: Active

Joint Ecosystem Modeling: Alligator Production Probability Model

Because the American alligator (Alligator mississippiensis) is a keystone species of the Everglades ecosystem, managers need a way to quantitatively assess the effects of alternative restoration scenarios on alligators.

Date published: May 7, 2018
Status: Active

Sea turtle nesting on Eglin Air Force Base property, Cape San Blas, Florida

The Northwestern Atlantic population of loggerhead sea turtles is one of the largest in the world. Genetic studies have divided this population into 5 management units including a genetically distinct group that nests throughout the northern Gulf of Mexico (GoM).

Date published: May 2, 2018
Status: Active

Remote Sensing

USGS is using remote sensing of Fisheries and Aquatic Communities to monitor and assess fish populations and aquatic communities.

Date published: May 2, 2018
Status: Active

Data Visualization

USGS aquatic scientists are developing data visualization tools to assist
natural resource managers in decision‐making and adaptive management.

Date published: May 2, 2018
Status: Active

Statistical Modeling

The USGS is incorporating different species and aquatic communities into statistical models to begin developing tools that quantify relationships between flow and total ecosystem services provided by river systems for human benefit. 

Date published: May 2, 2018
Status: Active

Genetics and Genomics

USGS aquatic scientists develop and adapt new technologies and tools that increase the effectiveness, efficiency, safety, and accuracy of aquatic ecosystem management.

Date published: May 2, 2018
Status: Active

Fish Tagging and Tracking

USGS Fisheries scientists apply advanced technologies to monitor and assess fish populations and aquatic communities.

Date published: May 1, 2018
Status: Active

Restoration of Aquatic Ecosystems

USGS Fisheries scientists work with partners to assess the physiology, life history, reproduction, and habitat needs of aquatic species to assist managers to develop techniques to understand, conserve, and restore fish communities.

Date published: May 1, 2018
Status: Active

Pollution in Aquatic Ecosystems

USGS scientists quantify and describe functional relationships among aquatic species and habitats to characterize aquatic community structure, function, adaptation, and sustainability.

Date published: May 1, 2018
Status: Active

Bird Banding Laboratory

The Bird Banding Laboratory (BBL) is an integrated scientific program established in 1920 supporting the collection, archiving, management and dissemination of information from banded and marked birds in North America.  This information is used to monitor the status and trends of resident and migratory bird populations. Because birds are good indicators of the health of the environment, the...

Date published: May 1, 2018
Status: Active

Invasive Species and Disease

USGS provides fisheries research information to restore and enhance fish habitat and understand fish diseases. Endangered species and those that are imperiled receive special research interest. Aquatic Invasive Species research is aiding in early detection and control measures, as well as understanding impacts these invaders have on aquatic environments.

Date published: May 1, 2018
Status: Active

Land and Water Management

USGS research in advanced technologies, use of remote sensing, and research and monitoring in large river systems across the U.S. uniquely positions the USGS Fisheries Program to contribute to practical applications of landscape science.

Filter Total Items: 30,899
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Year Published: 2019

Influenza A prevalence and subtype diversity in migrating teal sampled along the United States Gulf Coast

Wild birds in the order Anseriformes are important reservoirs for influenza A viruses (IAV); however, IAV prevalence and subtype diversity may vary by season, even at the same location. To better understand the ecology of IAV during waterfowl migration through the Gulf Coast of the United States (Louisiana and Texas), surveillance of blue-winged (...

Carter, Deborah; Link, Paul T.; Walther, Patrick; Ramey, Andrew M.; Stallknecht, David E.; Poulson, Rebecca L.

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Year Published: 2019

Carbon accumulation and vertical accretion in a restored vs. historic salt marsh in southern Puget Sound, Washington, United States

Few comparisons exist between vertical accretion (VA) and carbon accumulation rates (CARs), in restored vs. historic (i.e., reference) marshes. Here we compare these processes in a formerly diked, sparsely vegetated, restored salt marsh (Six Gill Slough, SG), whose surface is subsided relative to the tidal frame, to an adjacent, relatively...

Drexler, Judith Z.; Woo, Isa; Fuller, Christopher C.; Nakai, Glynnis

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Year Published: 2019

U.S. Geological Survey—Northern Prairie Wildlife Research Center 2017 research activity report

The mission of Northern Prairie Wildlife Research Center is to provide scientific information needed to conserve and manage the Nation’s natural capital for current and future generations, with an emphasis on migratory birds, Department of the Interior trust resources, and ecosystems of the Nation’s interior.  This report provides an...

Sherfy, Mark H.
Sherfy, M.H., ed., 2019, U.S. Geological Survey—Northern Prairie Wildlife Research Center 2017 research activity report: U.S. Geological Survey Circular 1451, 63 p., https://doi.org/10.3133/cir1451.

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Year Published: 2019

The plant diversity sampling design for The National Ecological Observatory Network

The National Ecological Observatory Network (NEON) is designed to facilitate an understanding of the impact of environmental change on ecological systems. Observations of plant diversity—responsive to changes in climate, disturbance, and land use, and ecologically linked to soil, biogeochemistry, and organisms—result in NEON data products that...

Barnett, David T.; Adler, Peter B.; Chemel, Benjamin R.; Duffy, Paul A.; Enquist, Brian J.; Grace, James B.; Harrison, Susan P.; Peet, Robert K.; Schimel, David S.; Stohlgren, Thomas J.; Vellend, Mark

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Year Published: 2019

Arizona hedgehog cactus (Echinocereus triglochidiatus var. arizonicus)—A systematic data assessment in support of recovery

The Arizona hedgehog cactus (Echinocereus triglochidiatus var. arizonicus) is endemic to central Arizona in Gila and Pinal Counties, and has been federally listed as endangered by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (FWS) since 1979. Mining, mineral exploration, and highway development have resulted in habitat degradation and loss of individual...

Thomas, Kathryn A.; Shryock, Daniel F.; Esque, Todd C.
Thomas, K.A., Shryock, D.F., and Esque, T.C., 2019, Arizona hedgehog cactus (Echinocereus triglochidiatus var. arizonicus)—A systematic data assessment in support of recovery: U.S. Geological Survey Open-File Report 2019-1004, 36 p., https://doi.org/10.3133/ofr20191004.

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Year Published: 2019

Influence of salinity on relative density of American crocodiles (Crocodylus acutus) in Everglades National Park: Implications for restoration of Everglades ecosystems

The status of the American crocodile (Crocodylus acutus) has long been a matter of concern in Everglades National Park (ENP) due to its classification as a federal and state listed species, its recognition as a flagship species, and its function as an ecosystem indicator. Survival and recovery of American crocodiles has been linked with regional...

Mazzotti, Frank J.; Smith, Brian; Squires, Michiko; Cherkiss, Michael S.; Farris, Seth C; Hackett, Caitlin; Hart, Kristen M.; Briggs-Gonzalez, Venetia; Brandt, Laura A.

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Year Published: 2019

Evidence for a duplicated mitochondrial region in Audubon’s shearwater based on MinION sequencing

Mitochondrial genetic markers have been extensively used to study the phylogenetics and phylogeography of many birds, including seabirds of the order Procellariiformes. Evidence suggests that part of the mitochondrial genome of Procellariiformes, especially albatrosses, is duplicated, but no DNA fragment covering the entire duplication has been...

Torres, Lucas; Welch, Andreanna J.; Zanchetta, Catherine; Chesser, Terry; Manno, Maxime; Donnadieu, Cecile; Bretagnolle, Vincent; Pante, Eric

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Year Published: 2019

Weak effects of geolocators on small birds: a meta‐analysis controlled for phylogeny and publication bias

Currently, the deployment of tracking devices is one of the most frequently used approaches to study movement ecology of birds. Recent miniaturisation of light‐level geolocators enabled studying small bird species whose migratory patterns were widely unknown. However, geolocators may reduce vital rates in tagged birds and may bias obtained...

Brlík, Vojtěch; Koleček, Jaroslav; Burgess, Malcolm; Hahn, Steffen; Humple, Diana; Krist, Milos; Ouwehand, Janne; Weiser, Emily L.; Adamik, Peter; Alves, José A.; Arlt, Debora; Barišić, Sanja; Becker, Detlef; Belda, Eduardo J.; Beran, Vaclav; Both, Christiaan; Bravo, Susana P.; Briedis, Martins; Bohumír, Chutný; Ćiković, Davor; Cooper, Nathan W.; Costa, Joana S.; Cueto, Víctor R.; Emmenegger, Tamara; Fraser, Kevin; Gilg, Olivier; Guerrero, Marina; Hallworth, Michael T.; Hewson, Chris; Jiguet, Frédéric; Johnson, James; Kelly, Tosha; Kishkinev, Dmitry; Leconte, Michel; Lislevand, Terje; Lisovski, Simeon; López, Cosme; McFarland, Kent P.; Marra, Peter P.; Matsuoka, Steven M.; Matyjasiak. Piotr; Meier, Christoph M.; Metzger, Benjamin; Monrós, Juan S.; Neumann, Roland; Newman, Amy; Norris, Ryan; Pärt, Tomas; Pavel, Václav; Perlut, Noah; Piha, Markus; Reneerkens, Jeroen; Rimmer, Christopher C.; Roberto-Charro, Amélie; Scandolara, Chiara; Sokolova, Natalia; Takenaka, Makiko; Tolkmitt, Dirk; van Oosten, Herman; Wellbrock, Arndt H. J.; Wheeler, Hazel; van der Winden, Jan; Witte, Klaudia; Woodworth, Brad; Procházka, Petr

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Year Published: 2019

Microclimate influences mangrove freeze damage: Implications for range expansion in response to changing macroclimate

In response to warming winter air temperatures, freeze-sensitive mangrove forests are expected to expand at the expense of freeze-tolerant salt marshes. To better anticipate and prepare for mangrove range expansion, there is a need to advance understanding of the modulating role of microclimate. Here, we synthesized hypotheses regarding the...

Osland, Michael J.; Hartmann, Arik M.; Day, Richard H.; Ross, Michael S.; Hall, Courtney T.; Feher, Laura C.; Vervaeke, William

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Year Published: 2019

An improved mechanical owl for efficient capture of nesting raptors

Scientific study of raptors often requires the use of a lure to capture individuals for marking or collecting various data and samples. Live lure owls in the genus Bubo are commonly used with mist nets or dho-gazas to trap nesting raptors, but the use of these live lures presents ethical, logistical, and financial challenges. Although...

Jensen, Meghan K.; Hamburg, Shanti D.; Rota, Christopher T.; Brinker, David F.; Coles, Dustin L.; Manske, Mark A.; Slabe, Vincent A.; Stuber, Matthew J.; Welsh, Amy B.; Katzner, Todd E.

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Year Published: 2019

Effectiveness of lake trout (Salvelinus namaycush) suppression in Lake Pend Oreille, Idaho: 2006–2016

The nonnative lake trout (Salvelinus namaycush Walbaum, 1792) population in Lake Pend Oreille, Idaho increased exponentially during 1999–2006. This led to an unsustainable level of predation mortality on kokanee (Oncorhynchus nerka Walbaum, 1792), increased the conservation threat to native bull trout (Salvelinus confluentus Suckley...

Dux, Andrew M.; Hansen, Michael J.; Corsi, Matthew P.; Wahl, Nicholas C.; Fredericks, James P.; Corsi, Charles E.; Schill, Daniel J.; Horner, Ned J.

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Year Published: 2019

The black brant population is declining based on mark recapture

Annual survival and recruitment in black brant (Branta bernicla nigricans) have declined since the 1990s, yet aerial surveys of the global population have been stable or even increasing over the past decade. We used a combination of a Lincoln estimator based on harvest information and band recoveries, and marked‐unmarked ratios in bag checks in 1...

Sedinger, James S.; Riecke, Thomas V.; Leach, Alan G.; Ward, David H.

Filter Total Items: 741
Honey bee (Apis mellifera) foraging on coffee flowers of Coffea canephora and C. arabica plants
April 6, 2017

Honey bee pollination of coffee plants

Researcher swabs the body of a honeybee with fuschin gel to later use to identify the pollen particles on the bee's body and determine what plants the bee visited. The overal purpose of the project is to enable the Department of Applied Ecology of North Carolina State University (NCSU), Center for Landscape Conservation (CLC), and the Natural Resources Conservation Service

March 31, 2017

Establishing Forster's Tern Nesting Colonies

Scientists from the USGS Western Ecological Research Center (WERC) are conducting a "social attraction" study for seabirds in the Don Edwards San Francisco Bay National Wildlife Refuge. Historically, this region offered wetland habitats to local wildlife. With the introduction of industrial salt ponds and human development, however, much of this habitat was lost. Now,

March 30, 2017

2017 March Public Lecture—Brown Bears, Sea Otters, and Seals, Oh My!

Brown Bears, Sea Otters, and Seals, Oh My!
Unexpected interactions on the Katmai Coast
by Grant Hilderbrand, Chief of the Marine Ecosystems Office, USGS Alaska Science Center

  • Highlights of ongoing research on brown bears on the coast of the Katmai National Park
  • Observations from video collars deployed on brown bears
March 24, 2017

H1 East Transect – March 2017

Permanent Site: H1 East Transect; Depth: 5.9 Meters (19.5 Feet); Distance from river mouth: 2.4 Kilometers (1.5 Miles) east; Pre/Post Dam Removal: 6 years post-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 remains mainly

Three sailfin catfish found in the Big Cypress National Preserve
March 23, 2017

Sailfin catfishes discovered in Big Cypress

The sailfin catfish is one of 13 species of nonnative fish that biologists discovered during the Fish Slam in Big Cypress National Preserve, March 23, 2017.


Pike killifish found in Big Cypress
March 23, 2017

Non-native pike killifish from the Big Cypress

The pike killifish, native to Mexico and Central America, was one of 13 nonnative fish species that biologists discovered during the two-day Fish Slam in Big Cypress National Preserve, March 22 and 23, 2017.


Expressing lamprey feces
March 6, 2017

Expressing lamprey feces

USGS scientist Nick Johnson isn’t afraid to get dirty. Here he is expressing green feces from a parasitic sea lamprey. DNA in the feces may help USGS scientists discover the identity of sea lamprey’s last meal. 

In UV light an alga from the desmid family looks like a snowflake chain
February 28, 2017

A snowflake chain? Nope. A one-celled green alga.

The desmid family of single-celled green algae are never found in abundance, says USGS biologist Barry Rosen. They inhabit the soft, slightly acidic water of wetlands that depend on rainwater, like Florida’s Arthur R. Marshall Loxahatchee National Wildlife Refuge. They don’t “bloom” en masse, but their presence is an indicator of good water quality. Rosen’s research is

February 22, 2017

H1 East Transect – February 2017

Permanent Site: H1 East Transect; Depth: 5.8 Meters (19.1 Feet); Distance from river mouth: 2.4 Kilometers (1.5 Miles) east; Pre/Post Dam Removal: 6 years post-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 remains mainly

sampling equipment on big sagebrush site
February 16, 2017

Plot 347, point 6, Morley Nelson Snake River NCA

Cover photo for Shinneman, D.J., Welty, J.L., Arkle, R.S., Pilliod, D.S., Glenn, N.F., McIlroy, S.K., Halford, A.S., 2018, Fuels guide and database for intact and invaded big sagebrush (Artemisia tridentata) ecological sites—User manual: U.S. Geological Survey Data Series Report 1048, p. 9, https://doi.org/10.3133/ds1048

Idaho/Oregon border stake with person pulling a sled in background
February 1, 2017

Crossing the Idaho-Oregon border in winter

This remote area along the southern Idaho-Oregon border was affected by the 2015 Soda Fire, which burned nearly 400 square miles of sagebrush habitat important to many species of wildlife, as well as federal and private ranchlands. The USGS, in partnership with the Bureau of Land Management, is leading a first of its kind study on the efficacy of certain post-fire

Manatee Health Assessment
January 31, 2017

Manatee Health Assessment

USGS conducts a health assessment on a mantee in Crystal River, Florida.

Filter Total Items: 300
Date published: December 18, 2015

The Other 364 Days of the Year: The Real Lives of Wild Reindeer

Caribou, North America’s wild reindeer, have lives apart from their famous role on Christmas Eve. Reindeer, of course, is another common name for caribou (Rangifer tarandus) a large, cold-adapted, herding herbivore related to deer, elk and moose.

Attribution: Ecosystems
Date published: December 17, 2015

Intersex Prevalent in Black Bass Inhabiting National Wildlife Refuges in Northeast

Eighty five percent of male smallmouth bass and 27 percent of male largemouth bass tested in waters in or near 19 National Wildlife Refuges in the Northeast U.S. were intersex, according to a new study by U.S. Geological Survey and U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service researchers.

Attribution: Ecosystems
Date published: December 14, 2015

Climate Past as Prologue for Ponderosa Pines

Scientists from the National Park Service and the U.S. Geological Survey have reconstructed the recent migration history of ponderosa pine trees in the central Rocky Mountains.

Date published: December 10, 2015

Continued Decline of the Northern Spotted Owl Associated with the Invasive Barred Owl, Habitat Loss, and Climate Variation

CORVALLIS, Ore. – Northern spotted owl populations are declining in all parts of their range in the Pacific Northwest, according to research published in The Condor. Based on data from 11 study areas across Washington, Oregon and northern California, a rangewide decline of nearly 4 percent per year was estimated from 1985 to 2013.

Date published: November 17, 2015

Cause of Deadly Disease in Snakes Identified

The fungus Ophidiomyces ophiodiicola is the definitive cause of the skin infections in snakes known as snake fungal disease, or SFD, according to U.S. Geological Survey research published today in the journal mBio.

Date published: November 12, 2015

Arctic Tundra Fire Causes Widespread Permafrost Landscape Changes

ANCHORAGE, Alaska – Large and severe tundra fires cause top down permafrost thaw, playing a major role in altering Arctic landscapes according to a new study led by the U.S. Geological Survey.

Date published: November 4, 2015

Native Bees Foraging in Fields Are Exposed to Neonicotinoid Insecticides and other Pesticides

According to the first-ever study of pesticide residues on field-caught bees, native bees are exposed to neonicotinoid insecticides and other pesticides. This report was conducted by the U.S. Geological Survey and published in the journal Science of the Total Environment.

Date published: November 3, 2015

New Tool Rates Stream Vulnerability to Unconventional Oil and Gas Development

On average, streams in the Niobrara-Mowry Play of eastern Wyoming, Fayetteville Play of Arkansas, and Barnett Play of Texas ranked most vulnerable to unconventional oil and gas development, but for different reasons, according to recent U.S. Geological Survey coauthored research.

Date published: October 30, 2015

Genetic Study Confirms Growth of Yellowstone Grizzly Bear Population

BOZEMAN, Mont. – Genetic data show the grizzly bear population in the Greater Yellowstone Ecosystem has grown since the 1980s with no loss in genetic diversity, according to a report by the Interagency Grizzly Bear Study Team.

Date published: October 29, 2015

Invasive Northern Snakehead Carries Bacteria as Bad as its Bite

The invasive northern snakehead fish found in the mid-Atlantic area is now cause for more concern, potentially bringing diseases into the region that may spread to native fish and wildlife, according to a team of U.S. Geological Survey scientists.

Date published: October 28, 2015

Everglades’ Alligator Numbers Drop after Dry Years

Alligators and the Everglades go hand-in-hand, and as water conditions change in the greater Everglades ecosystem, gators are one of the key species that could be affected.

Attribution: Ecosystems
Date published: October 26, 2015

Restoration Handbook for Sagebrush Steppe Ecosystems, Part 1 - Understanding and Applying Restoration

CORVALLIS, Ore. — Heightened interest in advancing sage-grouse conservation has increased the importance of sagebrush-steppe restoration to recover or create wildlife habitat conditions that meet the species’ needs.