Mission Areas

Ecosystems

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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: 809
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 21, 2018
Status: Active

Effects of Aquatic Vegetation on Water Quality and Residence Time in the Bay-Delta

The spread of invasive aquatic vegetation in the Sacramento-San Joaquin Delta is having a profound impact on the Delta’s natural habitat. The presence of these “aquatic weeds” has been shown to alter water velocity and increase water clarity, posing threats to native fish species, specifically the threatened Delta Smelt. These aquatic plants can also affect the foodweb by altering nutrient,...

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...

Date published: March 15, 2018
Status: Active

Recovery of Eelgrass (Zostera marina L.) in Casco Bay, Maine, Following Destruction by European Green Crabs

Eelgrass provides essential functions to the ecology and economy of Maine’s coastal zone. When over half the eelgrass in Casco Bay, Maine, disappeared between 2012 and 2013, USGS experimental evidence identified disturbance from invasive European green crabs as the leading cause. Natural revegetation is occurring, but there is interest in learning whether restoration may hasten recover.

Date published: March 15, 2018
Status: Active

Highly Pathogenic Avian Influenza Seaduck Challenge Study

This project seeks to improve our understanding of the susceptibility and pathogenesis of pertinent strains of avian influenza viruses in diving duck species.

Date published: March 14, 2018
Status: Active

Integrating Estuarine Water-Quality Data in Northeastern National Parks

Estuaries worldwide are threatened by nutrient over-enrichment from watershed development. USGS led development of a regional protocol to monitor estuarine nutrient status in northeastern coastal National Parks. Synthesis and reporting of monitoring results at local and regional scales allows park managers to identify changing nutrient loads and susceptibility to eutrophication. 

Date published: March 14, 2018
Status: Active

Variation in Nitrogen Isotope Ratios of Eelgrass to Detect Trends in Estuarine Nutrient Status

Seagrasses are among the most productive ecosystems on the planet. Worldwide losses of this important habitat have been caused by water quality degradation association with watershed development. Improved approaches to detect threats of nutrient enrichment are paramount to seagrass conservation.

Filter Total Items: 30,677
Year Published: 2018

Changes in aquatic prey resources in response to estuary restoration in Willapa Bay, southwestern Washington

Executive SummaryThe ongoing restoration of more than 200 hectares of estuarine habitat at Willapa National Wildlife Refuge, southwestern Washington, is expected to benefit a variety of species, including salmonids that use estuarine and tidal marshes as rearing and feeding areas as well as migratory waterbirds. During March–June 2014 and 2015, U....

Woo, Isa; Davis, Melanie J.; De La Cruz, Susan E. W.
Woo, I., Davis, M.J., and De La Cruz, S., 2018. Changes in aquatic prey resources in response to estuary restoration in Willapa Bay, southwestern Washington: U.S. Geological Survey Open-File Report 2018-1194, 32 p., https://doi.org/10.3133/ofr20181194.

Year Published: 2018

Survival and drifting patterns of grass carp eggs and larvae in response to interactions with flow and sediment in a laboratory flume

A series of laboratory experiments was conducted to better understand the behavior of grass carp eggs and larvae in moving water in order to develop and implement new strategies for control and prediction of their dispersal and drift at early life stages. Settling velocity and density of a representative sample of eggs were estimated, and three...

Prada, Andres F.; George, Amy E.; Stahlschmidt, Benjamin H.; Chapman, Duane C.; Tinoco, Rafael O.

Year Published: 2018

A natural‐origin steelhead population's response to exclusion of hatchery fish

It is asserted that reduction or elimination of hatchery stocking will increase natural‐origin salmon Oncorhynchus spp. and steelhead O. mykiss production. We conducted an analysis of steelhead population census data (1958–2017) to determine whether elimination of summer steelhead stocking in the upper Clackamas River in 1998 increased the...

Courter, Ian I; Wyatt, Garth J; Perry, Russell; Plumb, John; Carpenter, Forrest M; Ackerman, Nicklaus K; Lessard, Robert B; Galbreath, Peter F

Year Published: 2018

Sympatry or syntopy? Investigating drivers of distribution and co‐occurrence for two imperiled sea turtle species in Gulf of Mexico neritic waters

Animals co‐occurring in a region (sympatry) may use the same habitat (syntopy) within that region. A central aim in ecology is determining what factors drive species distributions (i.e., abiotic conditions, dispersal limitations, and/or biotic interactions). Assessing the degree of biotic interactions can be difficult for species with wide ranges...

Hart, Kristen M.; Iverson, Autumn R.; Fujisaki, Ikuko; Lamont, Margaret M.; Bucklin, David N.; Shaver, Donna J.

Year Published: 2018

Survey of Arctic Alaskan wildlife for influenza A antibodies: Limited evidence for exposure of mammals

Influenza A viruses (IAVs) are maintained in wild waterbirds and have the potential to infect a broad range of species, including wild mammals. The Arctic Coastal Plain of Alaska supports a diverse suite of species, including waterfowl that are common hosts of IAVs. Mammals co-occur with geese and other migratory waterbirds during the summer...

Van Hemert, Caroline R.; Spivey, Timothy J.; Uher-Koch, Brian D.; Atwood, Todd C.; Sinnett, David R.; Meixell, Brandt W.; Hupp, Jerry W.; Jiang, Kaijun; Adams, Layne G.; Gustine, David D.; Ramey, Andrew M.; Wan, Xiu-Feng

Year Published: 2018

Regeneration and expansion of Quercus tomentella (island oak) groves on Santa Rosa Island

Quercus tomentella (island oak) is an endemic species that plays a key functional role in Channel Island ecosystems. Growing in groves on highland ridges, Q. tomentella captures fog and increases water inputs, stabilizes soils, and provides habitat for flora and fauna. This cloud forest system has been impacted by a long history of...

Woolsey, Jay; Hanna, Cause; McEachern, A. Kathryn; Anderson, Sean; Hartman, Brett D.

Year Published: 2018

Time-to-detection occupancy modeling: An efficient method for analyzing the occurrence of amphibians and reptiles

Occupancy models provide a reliable method of estimating species distributions while accounting for imperfect detectability. The cost of accounting for false absences is that detection and nondetection surveys typically require repeated visits to a site or multiple-observer techniques. More efficient methods of collecting data to estimate...

Halstead, Brian J.; Kleeman, Patrick M.; Rose, Jonathan

Year Published: 2018

Development of new information to inform fish passage decisions at the Yale and Merwin hydro projects on the Lewis River, Washington—Final report, 2018

The reintroduction of extirpated salmonids to historically occupied areas is becoming increasingly common as a conservation and recovery strategy. Often, reintroductions are implemented after the factors that originally led to species extirpation have been reduced, eliminated, or mitigated. For anadromous Oncorhynchus spp. (Pacific salmon) and O....

Al-Chokhachy, Robert K.; Clark, Christopher L.; Sorel, Mark H.; Beauchamp, David A.
Al-Chokhachy, R., Clark, C.L., Sorel, M.H., and Beauchamp, D.A., 2018, Development of new information to inform fish passage decisions at the Yale and Merwin hydro projects on the Lewis River, Washington—Final report, 2018: U.S. Geological Survey Open-File Report 2018–1190, 206 p., https://doi.org/10.3133/ofr20181190.

Year Published: 2018

Southern Great Plains Rapid Ecoregional Assessment—Volume II. Species and assemblages

The Southern Great Plains Rapid Ecoregional Assessment was conducted in partnership with the Bureau of Land Management (BLM) and the Great Plains Landscape Conservation Cooperative. The overall goal of the Rapid Ecoregional Assessments (REAs) is to compile and synthesize regional datasets to facilitate evaluation of the cumulative effects of...

Reese, Gordon C.; Carr, Natasha B.; Burris, Lucy E.
Reese, G.C., Carr, N.B., and Burris, L.E., 2018, Southern Great Plains Rapid Ecoregional Assessment—Volume II. Species and assemblages (ver. 1.1, December 2018): U.S. Geological Survey Open-File Report 2018–1109, 134 p., https://doi.org/10.3133/ofr20181109.

Year Published: 2018

Vegetative and geomorphic complexity at tributary junctions on the Colorado and Dolores Rivers: a blueprint for riparian restoration

ContextHabitat complexity in rivers is linked to dynamic fluvial conditions acting at various spatial scales. On regulated rivers in the western United States, tributaries are regions of high energy and disturbance, providing important resource inputs for riparian ecosystems.ObjectivesThis study investigated spatial patterns and extents of...

White, Margaret S.; Tavernia, Brian G.; Shafroth, Patrick B.; Chapman, Teresa B.; Sanderson, John S.

Year Published: 2018

Intensive oyster aquaculture can reduce disease impacts on sympatric wild oysters

Risks associated with disease spread from fish and shellfish farming have plagued the growth and public perception of aquaculture worldwide. However, by processing nutrients and organic material from the water column, the culture of many suspension-feeding bivalves has been proposed as a novel solution toward mitigating problems facing coastal...

Ben-Horin, Tal; Burge, Colleen A.; Bushek, David; Groner, Maya L.; Proestou, Dina A.; Huey, Lauren I.; Bidegain, Gorka; Carnegie, Ryan B.

Year Published: 2018

Indicators of ecosystem structure and function for the Upper Mississippi River System

This report documents the development of quantitative measures (indicators) of ecosystem structure and function for use in a Habitat Needs Assessment (HNA) for the Upper Mississippi River System (UMRS). HNAs are led periodically by the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers’ Upper Mississippi River Restoration (UMRR) Program, which is the primary habitat...

De Jager, Nathan R.; Rogala, James T.; Rohweder, Jason J.; Van Appledorn, Molly; Bouska, Kristen L.; Houser, Jeffrey N.; Jankowski, Kathi Jo
De Jager, N.R., Rogala, J.T., Rohweder, J.J., Van Appledorn, M., Bouska, K.L., Houser, Jeffrey, N., and Jankowski, K.J., 2018, Indicators of ecosystem structure and function for the Upper Mississippi River System: U.S. Geological Survey Open-File Report 2018–1143, 115 p., including 4 appendixes, https://doi.org/10.3133/ofr20181143.

Filter Total Items: 695
July 25, 2016

D2 East Transect – 2016

Permanent Site: D2 East Transect; Depth: 11.9 Meters (38.9 Feet); Distance from river mouth: 0.3 Kilometers (0.2 Miles); Pre/Post Dam Removal: 5 years post-dam removal; Lat/Long: 48.15233001,-123.56829403; Site Description: This site is right off the mouth of the river and is actively being buried in sandy substrate. The sediment for the first 19 meters of the 30 meter

...
July 25, 2016

L1 East Transect – 2016

Permanent Site: L1 East Transect; Depth: 11.4 Meters (37.4 Feet); Distance from river mouth: 2.3 Kilometers (1.4 Miles) west; Pre/Post Dam Removal: 5 years post-dam removal; Lat/Long: 48.13957527,-123.59359993; Site Description: This transect is medium depth. Substrate is mainly fine sediment/sand/mud covered in a layer of brown diatoms (0:39 seconds). Scattered boulders

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Pallid sturgeon free embryo at approximately 5 days post-hatch
July 14, 2016

Pallid sturgeon free embryo at approximately 5 days post-hatch

Figure 3. Pallid sturgeon free embryo at approximately 5 days post-hatch, approximately 14-15 mm (about 0.57 of an inch) in length.

Pallid sturgeon free embryo at approximately 10 days post-hatch
July 14, 2016

Pallid sturgeon free embryo at approximately 10 days post-hatch

Pallid sturgeon free embryo at approximately 10 days post-hatch, approximately 19-20 mm (about 0.77 of an inch) in length.

Horned Puffin, one of the species affected by a recent seabird die-off in the Pribilof Islands, AK
July 14, 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

Newly hatched pallid sturgeon free embryos.
July 14, 2016

Newly hatched pallid sturgeon free embryos.

Pallid sturgeon free embryos on the day of hatch, approximately 8-9 mm (about 0.33 of an inch) in length.

Pallid sturgeon free embryo at approximately 2 days post-hatch
July 14, 2016

Pallid sturgeon free embryo at approximately 2 days post-hatch

Pallid sturgeon free embryo at approximately 2 days post-hatch, approximately 11-12 mm (about 0.45 of an inch) in length.

Lake Trout
July 13, 2016

Lake Trout

Lake trout historically supported the most valuable freshwater commercial fisheries in North America, but their populations crashed in parts of the Great Lakes during the 1950s and 1960s due to overfishing and invasive species.

A person's hand holding a 31mm sturgeon on their index finger.
July 8, 2016

31mm Sturgeon

A 31-mm sturgeon captured in the Missouri River near Williston, North Dakota, on July 8 using a beam trawl. Sampling efforts occurred in support of a recent inter-agency collaborative drift experiment involving 700,000 sturgeon embryos. This sturgeon will be genetically test to see if it is from those used for the experiment.

Research team in the Northern Cascades.
July 7, 2016

USGS - NOROCK Research team in the Northern Cascades.

USGS - NOROCK field team in the Northern Cascades studying Hoary marmots and American pika and snowpack dynamics.  

A hydraulic habitat assessment boat in the river
June 29, 2016

Hydraulic Habitat Assessment Boat

A U.S. Geological Survey hydraulic habitat assessment boat in not enough water.

Filter Total Items: 286
Date published: May 25, 2014

Climate Change Accelerates Hybridization between Native and Invasive Species of Trout

Scientists have discovered that the rapid spread of hybridization between a native species and an invasive species of trout in the wild is strongly linked to changes in climate.

Date published: May 12, 2014

Partly Cloudy With a Chance of Birds, Bats, and Bugs

Migratory birds provide ecosystem benefits that include pest control, pollination of plants and serve as food sources for other wildlife.  They are also a source of recreation for millions of bird watchers and enthusiasts who provide food and design backyard habitats to attract a variety of species throughout the year.

Date published: April 16, 2014

Lack of Vitamin B1 Killing Great Lakes Fish

Great Lakes fish in the salmon family that rely on the fish “alewife” as part of their diet face a major obstacle in restoring naturally reproducing populations, according to new U.S. Geological Survey research published in the journal Fish and Shellfish Immunology.

Date published: April 14, 2014

California Camera Captures Curious Bobcat Behavior

Cats can find curious ways to navigate the human environment. USGS Western Ecological Research Center ecologist Erin Boydston has been studying how large wildlife like bobcats and mountain lions deal with the suburban sprawl of...

Date published: April 8, 2014

Sea Otters Can Get the Flu, Too

Northern sea otters living off the coast of Washington state were infected with the same H1N1 flu virus that caused the world-wide pandemic in 2009, according to a new U.S. Geological Survey and Centers for Disease Control and Prevention study. 

Date published: March 27, 2014

At the Lab Bench, Amid the Island Fog, and Under the Desert Sun, WERC Women Scientists Lean In

Like women researchers in other organizations and other scientific disciplines, women PI’s at USGS must manage unique career challenges, while pursuing their research questions and making an impact on our world.

Date published: March 19, 2014

North Atlantic May Be a New Route for Spread of Avian Flu to North America

The North Atlantic region is a newly discovered important pathway for avian influenza to move between Europe and North America, according to a U.S. Geological Survey report published today.

Date published: March 19, 2014

Bighorn Sheep on A Desert Island: Been There, Dung That

In a finding authors are coining an "unintentional rewilding," scientists identified a cave dung deposit as belonging to bighorn sheep that became extinct on a desert island sometime between the 6th and the 20th century.

Date published: March 19, 2014

Invasive Burmese Pythons Are Good Navigators and Can Find Their Way Home

Invasive Burmese pythons in South Florida are able to find their way home even when moved far away from their capture locations, a finding that has implications for the spread of the species.

Attribution: Ecosystems, Southeast
Date published: March 19, 2014

Invasive Burmese Pythons Are Good Navigators and Can Find Their Way Home

Invasive Burmese pythons in South Florida are able to find their way home even when moved far away from their capture locations, a finding that has implications for the spread of the species.

Attribution: Ecosystems, Southeast
Date published: March 12, 2014

Parasite in Live Asian Swamp Eels May Cause Human Illness

Raw or undercooked Asian swamp eels could transmit a parasitic infection called gnathostomiasis to consumers.

Date published: March 11, 2014

Asian Carp Eggs Found Near Lynxville, Wisconsin

Asian carp eggs, including late-stage embryos nearly ready to hatch from the egg, were recently identified in samples collected by U.S. Geological Survey scientists in 2013 from the Upper Mississippi River as far north as Lynxville, Wisc.

Attribution: Ecosystems, Midwest