Mission Areas

Ecosystems

Mission Areas L2 Landing Page Tabs

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.

 

Check out our Cool Tools for Hot Topics!
Filter Total Items: 757
Date published: March 29, 2018
Status: Active

Chemistry Laboratory

The Chemistry Laboratory technical staff provides toxicology support for diagnostic cases, including metal analysis (primarily lead), screening for organophosphate and carbamate pesticide exposure, and other toxicants.  The Chemistry Laboratory is also the main conduit for submission of  toxicology to external laboratories.

Contacts: David S Blehert
Date published: March 29, 2018
Status: Active

Diagnostic Microbiology Laboratory (DML)

The Diagnostic Microbiology Laboratory (DML) routinely performs a variety of procedures to isolate and identify important pathogenic bacteria and fungi from wildlife.  Microbes are identified based upon morphological characteristics, biochemical/physiological properties, molecular assays (e.g., PCR), and DNA sequence analysis.

Contacts: Jeffrey M Lorch
Date published: March 27, 2018
Status: Active

White-Nose Syndrome Surveillance

The USGS National Wildlife Health Center (NWHC) assists State, Federal, and Tribal wildlife agencies nationwide with early detection of Pseudogymnoascus destructans (Pd), and addresses specific research priorities identified by partners in conjunction with the...

Contacts: Anne Ballmann
Date published: March 27, 2018
Status: Active

Monarch Conservation Science Partnership Map Viewer and Tools

This web mapping application is a repository for data and tools that support the Monarch Conservation Science Partnership

Date published: March 27, 2018
Status: Active

Multi-century perspectives on current and future streamflow in the Missouri River Basin

The Missouri River system is the life-blood of the American Midwest providing water resources that drive agriculture, industry, hydroelectric power generation, and ecosystems. However, the Missouri River Basin (MRB) (Figure 1) is the only major river in the western U.S. for which hydrologic reconstructions from tree rings have not been generated in any systematic way. This knowledge gap is...

Contacts: Greg Pederson
Date published: March 26, 2018
Status: Active

Structured Decision Making

The biggest natural resource management challenges include competing views of the value and uses of those resources in society. Patuxent scientists develop methods to manage resources given those competing views under a “structured decision making” (SDM) framework. Our scientists both practice and train others in key SDM skills, such as model development and monitoring design.

Date published: March 16, 2018
Status: Active

Vector-borne Disease Research

Lyme disease is the most prevalent vector-borne disease in North America, with about 300,000 cases per year in the U.S.  We are studying transmission of the spirochete that causes this disease among wild animals and the blacklegged tick vectors, to determine why Lyme disease is common in the northeast and northern Midwest but rare in the south, even though blacklegged ticks are present in all...

Date published: March 16, 2018
Status: Active

Forest Structure Resulting from ‘Wildlife Forestry Silviculture’

The Challenge: Management of bottomland forests using wildlife forestry silviculture is being undertaken to achieve desired forest conditions for priority silvicolous wildlife, such as Louisiana black bear, migratory birds, and resident game species. Wildlife forestry management results in forests that have more open canopies and increased understory vegetation yet exhibit heterogeneous...

Date published: March 16, 2018
Status: Active

Assessing Amphibian Disease Risk in the Northeast

The Challenge: Disease in amphibian populations can have a range of effects, from devastating declines following introduction of a novel pathogen to recurring breakout events on a landscape. Elucidating mechanisms underlying the effects of diseases on amphibian populations is crucial to help managers make appropriate decisions to achieve management goals for amphibians.

Date published: March 15, 2018
Status: Active

Amphibian Research and Monitoring Initiative (ARMI): Understanding Amphibian Populations in the Northeastern United States

Currently, 90 amphibian species are recognized in the Northeast, including 59 species in the Order Caudata (salamanders) and 31 species in the Order Anura (frogs and toads). Almost half of the amphibians in the Northeast are salamanders within the family Plethodontidae. Amphibians are found in all physiographic regions of the Northeast, from sea level to the heights of the Appalachian,...

Date published: March 15, 2018
Status: Active

Conservation of Rare Vegetation Communities of the Atlantic Coastal Barrier Islands

The Challenge: A synthesis of the role of disturbance, in all of its manifestations, on the establishment and development of the American Holly forest is required to guide future conservation measures. Because many forest fragments have already endured >30 years of chronic deer herbivory, a legitimate question of how much more impact by deer can be tolerated and still conserve the essential...

Date published: March 15, 2018
Status: Active

Development of a Multimetric Index for Integrated Assessment of Salt Marsh Condition in the Northeast Coastal and Barrier Network

Salt marsh ecosystems along all US coastlines have been altered, degraded, and destroyed by human activities, including ditching and drainage of the marsh platform, tidal restrictions, discharge of pollutants, and introduction of invasive species. The National Park Service conducts long-term monitoring of salt marsh vegetation and nekton (fish and free-swimming crustaceans) to provide...

Filter Total Items: 30,899
Publication Thumbnail
Year Published: 2019

Complex immune responses and molecular reactions to pathogens and disease in a desert reptile (Gopherus agassizii)

Immune function plays an important role in an animal's defense against infectious disease. In reptiles, immune responses may be complex and counterintuitive, and diagnostic tools used to identify infection, such as induced antibody responses are limited. Recent studies using gene transcription profiling in tortoises have proven useful in...

Drake, K. Kristina; Aiello, Christina M.; Bowen, Lizabeth; Lewison, Rebecca L.; Esque, Todd C.; Nussear, Kenneth E.; Waters, Shannon C.; Hudson, Peter J.

Publication Thumbnail
Year Published: 2019

Phylogeography and evolution of infectious hematopoietic necrosis virus in China

Infectious hematopoietic necrosis virus (IHNV) is a well-known rhabdoviral pathogen of salmonid fish. In this study, a comprehensive analysis of 40 IHNV viruses isolated from thirteen fish farms in nine geographically dispersed Chinese provinces during 2012 to 2017 is presented. Identity of nucleotide and amino acid sequences among all the...

Xu, Liming; Zhao, Jingzhuang; Liu, Miao; Kurath, Gael; Breyta, Rachel B.; Ren, Guangming; Yin, Jiasheng; Liu, Hongbai; Lu, Tongyan

Publication Thumbnail
Year Published: 2019

Occupancy models for citizen-science data

Large‐scale citizen‐science projects, such as atlases of species distribution, are an important source of data for macroecological research, for understanding the effects of climate change and other drivers on biodiversity, and for more applied conservation tasks, such as early‐warning systems for biodiversity loss.However, citizen‐science data...

Altwegg, Res; Nichols, James D.

Publication Thumbnail
Year Published: 2019

Per- and polyfluoroalkyl substances (PFAS) in plasma of the West Indian manatee (Trichechus manatus)

Per- and polyfluoroalkyl substances (PFAS) are ubiquitous, synthetic anthropogenic chemicals known to infiltrate and persist in biological systems as a result of their stability and bioaccumulation potential. This study investigated 15 PFAS, including short-chain carboxylic and sulfonic acids, and their presence in a threatened herbivore...

Palmer, Kady; Bangma, Jacqueline T.; Reiner, Jessica L.; Bonde, Robert K.; Korte, Jeffrey E.; Boggs, Ashley S. P.; Bowden, John A.

Publication Thumbnail
Year Published: 2019

Estimating uncertainty of North American landbird population sizes

An important metric for many aspects of species conservation planning and risk assessment is an estimate of total population size. For landbirds breeding in North America, Partners in Flight (PIF) generates global, continental, and regional population size estimates. These estimates are an important component of the PIF species assessment process...

Stanton, Jessica C.; Blancher, Peter J.; Rosenberg, Kenneth V.; Panjabi, Arvind O.; Thogmartin, Wayne E.

Publication Thumbnail
Year Published: 2019

Water column nutrient processing rates in rivermouths of Green Bay (Lake Michigan)

Understanding the quantity and form of nutrient loads to large lakes is necessary to understand controls over primary production, phytoplankton community composition and the production of phytotoxins. Nutrient loading estimates to large lakes are primarily made at stream gages that are deliberately placed outside the direct influence of lake...

Larson, James H.; Evans, Mary Anne; Fitzpatrick, Faith A.; Frost, Paul C.; Bailey, Sean; Kennedy, Robert J.; James, William F.; Richardson, William B.; Reneau, Paul C.

Publication Thumbnail
Year Published: 2019

Description of disparate responses of two indoor feral bee colonies

As is sometimes the case, field research does not always go according to plan. This is especially true when the research involves free-ranging animals. We recently conducted a preliminary field study that involved placing a beehive in a tent and individually releasing marked honey bees (Apis mellifera) outdoors to study their ability to locate...

Vyas, Nimish B.; Plunkett, Amanda D.

Publication Thumbnail
Year Published: 2019

Simulating demography, genetics, and spatially explicit processes to inform reintroduction of a threatened char

The success of species reintroductions can depend on a combination of environmental, demographic, and genetic factors. Although the importance of these factors in the success of reintroductions is well‐accepted, they are typically evaluated independently, which can miss important interactions. For species that persist in metapopulations, movement...

Mims, Meryl C.; Day, Casey C.; Burkhart, Jacob J.; Fuller, Matthew R.; Hinkle, Jameson; Bearlin, Andrew; Dunham, Jason B.; DeHaan, Patrick W.; Holden, Zachary A.; Landguth, Erin L.

Publication Thumbnail
Year Published: 2019

River‐valley morphology, basin size, and flow‐event magnitude interact to produce wide variation in flooding dynamics

Inundation dynamics are a key driver of ecosystem form and function in river‐valley bottoms. Inundation itself is an outcome of multi‐scalar interactions and can vary strongly within and among river reaches. As a result, establishing to what degree and how inundation dynamics vary spatially both within and among river reaches can be challenging....

Van Appledorn, Molly; Baker, Matthew E.; Miller, Andrew J.

Publication Thumbnail
Year Published: 2019

Research priorities for freshwater mussel conservation assessment

Freshwater mussels are declining globally, and effective conservation requires prioritizing research and actions to identify and mitigate threats impacting mussel species. Conservation priorities vary widely, ranging from preventing imminent extinction to maintaining abundant populations. Here, we develop a portfolio of priority research topics...

Ferreira-Rodríguez, Noé ; Akiyama, Yoshihiro B.; Aksenova, Olga V.; M. Christopher Barnhart; Bespalaya, Yulia V.; Bogan, Arthur E.; Bolotov, Ivan N; Budha, Prem B.; Clavijo, Cristhian; Clearwater, Susan J.; Darrigran, Gustavo; Tu Do, Van ; Douda, Karel ; Froufe, Elsa ; Gumpinger, Clemens ; Henrikson, Lennart ; Humphrey, Chris L. ; Johnson, Nathan A.; Klishko, Olga; Klunzinger, Michael W. ; Kovitvadhi, Satit ; Kovitvadhi, Uthaiwan ; Lajtner, Jasna ; Lopes-Lima, Manuel ; Moorkens, Evelyn A. ; Nagayama, Shigeya ; Nagel, Karl-Otto ; Nakano, Mitsunori ; Negishi, Junjiro N. ; Ondina, Paz ; Oulasvirta, Panu ; Prié, Vincent ; Riccardi, Nicoletta ; Rudzīte, Mudīte ; Sheldon, Fran ; Sousa, Ronaldo ; Strayer, David L.; Takeuchi, Motoi ; Taskinen, Jouni ; Teixeira, Amilcar ; Tiemann, Jeremy S.; Urbańska, Maria ; Varandas, Simone ; Vinarski, Maxim V. ; Wicklow, Barry J.; Zając, Tadeusz ; Vaughn, Caryn C.

Publication Thumbnail
Year Published: 2019

Burmese Python (Python bivittatus)

No abstract available.

Krysko, Kenneth L.; Reed, Robert; Rochford, Michael R.; Nunez, Leroy P.; Enge, Kevin M.

Publication Thumbnail
Year Published: 2019

Population connectivity of pelagic megafauna in the Cuba-Mexico-United States triangle

The timing and extent of international crossings by billfishes, tunas, and sharks in the Cuba-Mexico-United States (U.S.) triangle was investigated using electronic tagging data from eight species that resulted in >22,000 tracking days. Transnational movements of these highly mobile marine predators were pronounced with varying levels of bi- or...

Rooker, Jay R.; Dance, Michael A.; Wells, R. J. David; Ajemian, Matthew J.; Block, Barbara A.; Castleton, Michael R.; Drymon, J. Marcus; Falterman, Brett J.; Franks, James S.; Hammerschlag, Neil; Hendon, Jill M.; Hoffmayer, Eric R.; Kraus, Richard T.; McKinney, Jennifer A.; Secor, David H.; Stunz, Gregory W.; Walter, John F.

Filter Total Items: 741
Photo of USGS scientist Jayne Belnap examining instrumentation to measure photosynthetic rates of biocrusts.
September 29, 2016

USGS scientist Jayne Belnap examines instruments to measure biocrust

USGS scientist Jayne Belnap examines instrumentation to measure photosynthetic rates of biocrusts.

Arid and semiarid ecosystems are expected to experience significant changes in temperature and precipitation patterns, which may affect soil organisms in ways that cause surfaces to become lighter in color and thus reflect more sunlight, according to a new USGS study

...
Photo of outdoor testing plots where biocrusts were exposed to different warming and precipitation factors over time.
September 26, 2016

Biocrust outdoor testing plots

USGS scientists created outdoor testing plots where large squares of biocrusts were exposed to different warming and precipitation factors over time. Researchers not only looked at how the biocrusts responded, but also measured the amount of energy that the different biocrust communities reflected back into the atmosphere relative to how much energy came in from the sun.

...
Photo of Biocrust outdoor testing plots
September 26, 2016

Biocrust outdoor testing plots

USGS scientists created outdoor testing plots where large squares of biocrusts were exposed to different warming and precipitation factors over time. Researchers not only looked at how the biocrusts responded, but also measured the amount of energy that the different biocrust communities reflected back into the atmosphere relative to how much energy came in from the sun.

...
Photo of USGS scientist Sasha Reed studying outdoor biocrust testing sites
September 26, 2016

USGS scientist Sasha Reed studys outdoor biocrust testing sites

USGS scientist Sasha Reed studies sites where different climate conditions are being mimicked to determine effect on biocrusts.

Arid and semiarid ecosystems are expected to experience significant changes in temperature and precipitation patterns, which may affect soil organisms in ways that cause surfaces to become lighter in color and thus reflect more sunlight,

...
Photo of biocrust outdoor testing plots.
September 26, 2016

Biocrust outdoor testing plots.

USGS scientists created outdoor testing plots where large squares of biocrusts were exposed to different warming and precipitation factors over time. Researchers not only looked at how the biocrusts responded, but also measured the amount of energy that the different biocrust communities reflected back into the atmosphere relative to how much energy came in from the sun.

...
two scientists setting up an experiment in an area dominated by cheatgrass
September 23, 2016

Setting up a bacterial control experiment on cheatgrass

Scientists are studying several weed suppressive bacteria to see if they can be used as a biological control on invasive exotic grasses, such as cheatgrass.

Wind turbines at the Altamont Pass Wind Farm
September 8, 2016

Wind turbines at the Altamont Pass Wind Farm

The Altamont Pass Wind Far is located in northern California.

September 6, 2016

USGS Hammond Bay Biological Station Renovation — Time Lapse

Watch as the USGS Hammond Bay Biological Station water tank and pump house are constructed from the ground up! This short video features time lapse photography of the 1-million gallon water tank and pump house constructed to supply water to a state-of-the-art aquatic science laboratory. Laboratory construction will occur over the next several years and will also be

...
Horned Puffin, one of the species affected by a recent seabird die-off in the Pribilof Islands, AK
August 26, 2016

Horned Puffin, near Chisik Island in Lower Cook Inlet, Alaska

Horned Puffin, one of the species affected by a recent seabird die-off in the Pribilof Islands, AK. Near Chisik Island in Lower Cook Inlet, Alaska

August 26, 2016

First Days - Harlequin Ducks

This ridiculously cute video of baby Harlequin Ducks (Histrionicus histrionicus) shows their first day outside the egg (about 20 hours old). Scientists at Patuxent Wildlife Research Center are training ducks to respond to sounds — just like a hearing test given to kids during elementary school — to learn more about their ability to hear underwater. This will inform the

...
August 25, 2016

Tarantula Hawk

Tarantula hawk wasps sting and paralyze tarantulas to feed their young. USGS Ecologist Todd Esque captured this video of a tarantula hawk wasp dragging a tarantula through the desert in Mexico. 

August 25, 2016

E2 East Transect – 2016

Permanent Site: E2 East Transect; Depth: 14.3 Meters (46.8 Feet); Distance from river mouth: 0.9 Kilometers (0.5 Miles) east; Pre/Post Dam Removal: 5 years post-dam removal; Lat/Long: 48.15653002,-123.56130401; Site Description: This is one of our deeper sites. Substrate is mainly gravel/cobble with an occasional boulder. A few brown acid kelps (Desmarestia spp. at 0:06 

...
Filter Total Items: 300
Date published: June 24, 2015

Past Water Patterns Drive Present Wading Bird Numbers

Wading bird numbers in the Florida Everglades are driven by water patterns that play out over multiple years according to a new study by the U.S. Geological Survey and Florida Atlantic University.

Attribution: Ecosystems
Date published: May 20, 2015

Long-term Prognosis for Florida Manatees Improves

The risk of extinction for the endangered Florida manatee appears to be lower, according to a new U.S. Geological Survey led study.

Date published: May 18, 2015

Genetics Provide New Hope for Endangered Freshwater Mussels

WELLSBORO, Pa. — A piece of the restoration puzzle to save populations of endangered freshwater mussels may have been found, according to a recent U.S. Geological Survey led study. Local population losses in a river may not result in irreversible loss of mussel species; other mussels from within the same river could be used as sources to restore declining populations.

Date published: May 12, 2015

Climate Change Threatens Native Trout Diversity

Scientists have discovered that the diversity of a threatened native trout species will likely decrease due to future climate change. 

Date published: May 11, 2015

Boom and Bust in the Boreal Forest: Climate Signals Seen in Bird Populations

Weaving concepts of ecology and climatology, recent interdisciplinary research by USGS and several university partners reveals how large-scale climate variability appears to connect boom-and-bust cycles in the seed production of the boreal (northern conifer) forests of Canada to massive, irregular movements of boreal birds.

Date published: May 6, 2015

Asian Carp Would Have Adequate Food to Survive in Lake Erie

If invasive bighead carp and silver carp spread into Lake Erie, there would be enough food available for these species of Asian carp to survive, according to a new study by the U.S. Geological Survey.

Attribution: Ecosystems
Date published: May 5, 2015

Seasonal Habitat Quality and Landscape Characteristics Explain Genetic Differences Between Greater Sage-grouse Populations in Wyoming

FORT COLLINS, Colo. — Low-quality nesting and winter seasonal habitats are strong predictors of reduced gene flow between greater sage-grouse breeding locations, according to research just published in Ecology and Evolution and authored by the U.S. Geological Survey and their colleagues at the University of Waterloo.

Date published: May 4, 2015

Shorebird Science? iPlover is the App for That

RESTON, Va.-- The latest tool designed to help manage the threatened piping plover is only a download away; iPlover is the first smartphone data collection application developed by the U.S. Geological Survey and will help those managing plover populations.

Attribution: Ecosystems
Date published: April 28, 2015

Burmese Python Habitat Use Patterns May Help Control Efforts

EVERGLADES NATIONAL PARK, Fla.— The largest and longest Burmese Python tracking study of its kind -- here or in its native range -- is providing researchers and resource managers new information that may help target control efforts of this invasive snake, according to a new study led by the U.S. Geological Survey.

Date published: April 16, 2015

Model Offers More Ease, Precision for Managing Invasive Asian Carp

The likelihood of Asian carp eggs being kept in suspension and hatching in the St. Joseph River in Michigan has been further evaluated using a model that examines a range of multiple flow and water temperature scenarios. Results illustrate the highest percentage of Asian carp eggs at risk of hatching occurs when the streamflow is low and when the water temperature is high.

Date published: April 16, 2015

Genetics Provides New Clues about Lionfish Invasion

New genetic data suggest the red lionfish invasion in the Caribbean Basin and Western Atlantic started in multiple locations, not just one as previously believed, according to a new study led by the U.S. Geological Survey.

Date published: April 10, 2015

Climate Change May Pose Substantial Future Risk to Sagebrush Habitat in Southwestern Wyoming

Sioux Falls, SD. — Climate change may pose a substantial future risk for sagebrush habitat in southwestern Wyoming, and thus adversely affect the regional summer habitat and nesting areas of sage-grouse, according to a new study by the United States Geological Survey.