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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 14, 2018
Status: Active

American Black Duck and Threat of Avian Influenza

The Challenge: The genomic revolution is giving wildlife biologists new tools to assess the role of wildlife in spreading diseases that affect human populations.   Peptide arrays are a high throughput technology that gives unprecedented breadth and depth of information about the immune system.  We are using peptide arrays to assess the immune responses of Chesapeake Bay waterfowl to avian...

Date published: March 14, 2018
Status: Active

Disease Resistance of Wildlife Species: how the immune system evolves and adapts

The Challenge: In an era when emerging infectious diseases are steadily increasing, human populations are exposed to virulent new pathogens.  Insight into the human system can be gained from understanding the variety of immune adaptations of wildlife species.  The vertebrate immune system is not static.  Rather, it involves in response to the environment.

Date published: March 14, 2018
Status: Completed

Shoreline Changes and Impacts to Natural Resources in Chesapeake Bay

This project aims to improve our understanding of the impacts of shoreline hardening on aquatic ecosystems.

Date published: March 13, 2018
Status: Completed

A Vaccination Program to Protect Endangered Whooping Cranes from Encephalitis Virus

The Challenge: In eastern North America there is a viral disease called Eastern Equine Encephalitis, or EEE. This virus is transmitted among native bird species by the mosquito, Culiseta melanura, but does not cause disease in these passerine species. However, the virus is capable of causing severe disease or death in horses, some game bird species, humans and whooping cranes. In the fall of...

Date published: March 13, 2018
Status: Active

Use of Structured Decision Making to Optimize Salt Marsh Management Decisions at Northeastern National Wildlife Refuges

A regional assessment of salt marsh integrity (SMI) has been completed on 15 National Wildlife Refuges/Refuge Complexes in the northeastern US. Developed within a structured decision making (SDM) framework, the SMI assessment provides essential baseline data on salt marsh condition relative to regional management objectives. These data now provide the basis for applying the SDM framework to...

Date published: March 13, 2018
Status: Active

Avian Influenza Surveillance in Waterfowl in the Atlantic Flyway

This project seeks to quantify the strains and prevalence of avian influenza viruses circulating in wild waterfowl across the Atlantic Flyway, and allow comparison with the nations other flyways.

Date published: March 12, 2018
Status: Completed

Coastal Salt Marsh Management Along the Atlantic

This project seeks to improve our understanding of how Open Marsh Water Management techniques aimed at mosquito reduction have impacted their target ecosystems along the Atlantic coast.

Date published: March 12, 2018
Status: Active

Pathogens in the Aquatic Environment – Waterfowl, Avian Influenza

This project focuses on understanding the prevalence and strains of avian influenza viruses in the aquatic environment and how this compares to those circulating within wild birds in the same area.

Date published: March 9, 2018
Status: Active

USGS Wild Bird Avian Influenza Program – Studies from Endemic Regions of Eurasia

This project focuses on tracking wild birds throughout Eurasia via satellite telemetry to better understand their spatiotemporal movement patterns, relationship to domestic birds, and potential role in the spread, persistence, and amplification of avian influenza viruses.

Date published: March 8, 2018
Status: Completed

Tracking Domestic Ducks through the Market Chain in China via Telemetry

This project seeks to improve our understanding of how domestic ducks move throughout the market chain in China and the role this may play in the amplification and spread of avian influenza viruses.

Date published: March 7, 2018
Status: Active

An Eco-immunological Study of Chesapeake Bay Waterfowl

The Challenge: The health of the abundant waterfowl species of Chesapeake Bay has become a major concern due to the spread of Avian Influenza (AI) across North America and the role of waterfowl as a vector of AI. For decades, the health of the Bay’s waterfowl has been affected by the degradation of water quality and food supply due to industrial contaminants,agricultural run-off, pollution...

Date published: March 6, 2018
Status: Active

Alpine Wildlife and Snowpack Dynamics in the North Cascades

Mountain ecosystems are expected to change with continued reductions in annual snowpack that have been observed worldwide over the past half-century. Recent snow droughts in North America have been attributed to unusually warm temperatures that cause winter precipitation to fall as rain, rather than snow. Many species of alpine wildlife depend on snowpack for insulation from extreme cold and...

Filter Total Items: 30,674
Year Published: 2018

Identification of bees in southwest Idaho—A guide for beginners

This document was prepared to help scientists and the public, both of whom may not be familiar with bee taxonomy, learn how to practically identify bees in sagebrush steppe and shrubland habitats in southwest Idaho. We provide information to identify bees to the level of family and genus. A tentative list of the bee genera captured at sites used...

Sun, Emily R.; Pilliod, David S.
Sun, E.R., and Pilliod, D.S., 2018, Identification of bees in southwest Idaho—A guide for beginners: U.S. Geological Survey Circular 1448, 84 p., https://doi.org/10.3133/cir1448.

Year Published: 2018

Observer-free experimental evaluation of habitat and distance effects on the detection of anuran and bird vocalizations

Acoustic surveys of vocalizing animals are conducted to determine density, distribution, and diversity. Acoustic surveys are traditionally performed by human listeners, but automated recording devices (ARD) are becoming increasingly popular. Signal strength decays, or attenuates, with increasing distance between source and receiver and some...

MacLaren, Andrew R.; Crump, Paul S.; Royle, J. Andrew; Forstner, Michael R. J.

Year Published: 2018

Root endophytes and invasiveness: no difference between native and non‐native Phragmites in the Great Lakes Region

Microbial interactions could play an important role in plant invasions. If invasive plants associate with relatively more mutualists or fewer pathogens than their native counterparts, then microbial communities could foster plant invasiveness. Studies examining the effects of microbes on invasive plants commonly focus on a single microbial group (...

Bickford, Wesley A.; Goldberg, Deborah E.; Kowalski, Kurt P.; Zak, Donald R.

Year Published: 2018

Sex‐specific responses in neuroanatomy of hatchling American kestrels in response to embryonic exposure to the flame retardants bis(2‐ethylhexyl)‐2,3,4,5‐tetrabromophthalate and 2‐ethylhexyl‐2,3,4,5‐tetrabromobenzoate

Bis(2‐ethylhexyl)‐2,3,4,5‐tetrabromophthalate (BEH‐TEBP) and 2‐ethylhexyl‐2,3,4,5‐tetrabromobenzoate (EH‐TBB), flame retardant components of FireMaster 550® and 600® have been detected in tissues of wild birds. To address the paucity of information regarding potential impacts of flame retardants on the brain, brain volume regions of hatchling...

Guigueno, Mélanie F.; Karouna-Renier, Natalie K.; Henry, Paula F. P.; Peters, Lisa E.; Palace, Vince P.; Letcher, Robert J.; Fernie, Kim J.

Year Published: 2018

Wildlife underpass use and environmental impact assessment: A southern California case study

Environmental planners often rely on transportation structures (i.e., underpasses, bridges) to provide connectivity for animals across developed landscapes. Environmental assessments of predicted environmental impacts from proposed developments often rely on literature reviews or other indirect measures to establish the importance of wildlife...

Longcore, Travis; Almaleh, Lindsay; Chetty, Brittany; Francis, Kathryn; Freidin, Robert; Huang, Ching-Sheng; Pickett, Brooke; Schreck, Diane; Scruggs, Brooke; Shulman, Elise; Swauger, Alissa; Tashnek, Alison; Wright, Michael; Boydston, Erin E.

Year Published: 2018

Canid vs. canid: Insights into coyote–dog encounters from social media

While the relationship between coyotes (Canis latrans) and house cats (Felis catus) may be characterized as one between predators and their prey, coyote interactions with domestic dogs (C. lupus familiaris) appear to be more varied and may include behaviors associated with canid sociality. While encounters between coyotes and dogs are difficult to...

Boydston, Erin E.; Abelson, Eric S.; Kazanjian, Ari; Blumstein, Daniel T.

Year Published: 2018

Eco‐evolutionary rescue promotes host–pathogen coexistence

Emerging infectious pathogens are responsible for some of the most severe host mass mortality events in wild populations. Yet, effective pathogen control strategies are notoriously difficult to identify, in part because quantifying and forecasting pathogen spread and disease dynamics is challenging. Following an outbreak, hosts must cope with the...

DiRenzo, Graziella V.; Zipkin, Elise F.; Campbell Grant, Evan H.; Royle, J. Andrew; Longo, Ana V.; Zamudio, Kelly R.; Lips, Karen R.

Year Published: 2018

An integrated population model for greater Sage-Grouse (Centrocercus urophasianus) in the bi-state distinct population segment, California and Nevada, 2003–17

The Bi-State Distinct Population Segment (DPS) of greater sage-grouse (Centrocercus urophasianus, hereinafter “sage-grouse”) occupies parts of Alpine, Mono, and Inyo Counties in California, and parts of Douglas, Esmeralda, Lyon, Carson City, and Mineral Counties in Nevada and was proposed for listing as threatened under the Endangered Species Act...

Mathews, Steven R.; Coates, Peter S.; Prochazka, Brian G.; Ricca, Mark A.; Meyerpeter, Mary B.; Espinosa, Shawn P.; Lisius, Sherri; Gardner, Scott C.; Delehanty, David J.
Mathews, S.R., Coates, P.S., Prochazka, B.G., Ricca, M.A., Meyerpeter, M.B., Espinosa, S.P., Lisius, S., Gardner, S.C., and Delehanty, D.J., 2018, An integrated population model for greater sage-grouse (Centrocercus urophasianus) in the Bi-State Distinct Population Segment, California and Nevada, 2003–17: U.S. Geological Survey Open-File Report 2018-1177, 89 p., https://doi.org/10.3133/ofr20181177.

Year Published: 2018

Characterizing toxicity of metal‐contaminated sediments from the Upper Columbia River, Washington, USA, to benthic invertebrates

Sediments from the Upper Columbia River, Washington, USA, are contaminated with metals from smelting operations. We conducted short‐term and long‐term tests with the midge Chironomus dilutus and the amphipod Hyalella azteca and short‐term tests with the freshwater mussel Lampsilis siliquoidea with 54 sediments from...

Besser, John M.; Steevens, Jeffery; Kunz, James L.; Brumbaugh, William G.; Ingersoll, Christopher G.; Cox, Stephen E.; Mebane, Christopher A.; Balistrieri, Laurie S.; Sinclair, Jesse A.; MacDonald, Donald D.

Year Published: 2018

Population viability analyses for three Macrhybopsis spp. of the Lower Missouri River

Recent declines in three species of chubs that inhabit the lower Missouri River (shoal chub M. hyostoma, sicklefin chub M. meeki and sturgeon chub M. gelida) have become a concern in the management of their own populations and the endangered pallid sturgeon (Scaphirhynchus albus) that feeds on them. These chub populations...

Albers, Janice L.; Wildhaber, Mark L.; Green, Nicholas S.

Year Published: 2018

Effects of transmitter type, tagging method, body size, and temperature on behavior, physiology, and swimming performance of juvenile Chinook salmon (Oncorhynchus tshawytscha)

The objective of this study was to assess the impact of different tagging methods and transmitter types on juvenile salmonid behavior, mortality, physiology, and swimming performance over a range of water temperatures and fish sizes.In Chapter 1, two laboratory experiments were conducted to assess maximum burst-swimming speeds, the probability of...

Perry, Russell W.; Liedtke, Theresa L.
Perry, R.W., and Liedtke, T.L., eds., 2018, Effects of transmitter type, tagging method, body size, and temperature on behavior, physiology, and swimming performance of juvenile Chinook salmon (Oncorhynchus tshawytscha): U.S. Geological Survey Open Report 2018–1186, 74 p., https://doi.org/10.3133/ofr20181186.

Year Published: 2018

An experimental comparison of composite and grab sampling of stream water for metagenetic analysis of environmental DNA

Use of environmental DNA (eDNA) to assess distributions of aquatic and semi-aquatic macroorganisms is promising, but sampling schemes may need to be tailored to specific objectives. Given the potentially high variance in aquatic eDNA among replicate grab samples, compositing smaller water volumes collected over a period of time may be more...

Cornman, Robert S.; McKenna, James E.; Fike, Jennifer A.; Oyler-McCance, Sara J.; Johnson, Robin

Filter Total Items: 694
Scientists with headlight looking at samples at night time.
June 29, 2016

Night Sampling

USGS Fish Biologist Dave Combs searches through net contents for larval fish during night sampling on the Upper Missouri River.

Scientists standing on a boat capturing samples with a net in the water.
June 29, 2016

Night Sampling Boat

USGS fish biologist Dr. Pat Braaten and student contractor Garrett Cook inspect contents of a larval fish net during night sampling on the Upper Missouri River.

Scientist retrieving a fluorometer
June 29, 2016

Fluorometer Retrieval

Research hydrologist Dr. Susannah Erwin retrieves fluorometer from the Upper Missouri River to download dye trace data.

A boat going out on a river for sampling.
June 28, 2016

Boat Launch for Night Sampling

USGS fish biologists launch at sunset on the Upper Missouri River for a night of sampling for larval pallid sturgeon.

Close-up view of tweezers picking up an ichthyoplankton sample.
June 28, 2016

Ichthyoplankton Sample

Typical contents of a net deployment showing larval fish, possibly pallid sturgeon.

The ADCP boat on the river
June 28, 2016


A US Geological Survey hydroacoustic survey boat measures velocity profiles on the Upper Missouri River.

Scientists in a boat reviewing data on a computer
June 28, 2016

ADCP Data Review

Research hydrologist Dr. Susannah Erwin and hydrologic technician Brian Anderson inspect ADCP data on the Upper Missouri River.

People sitting and standing listening to scientists talking.
June 27, 2016

Pre-Sample Briefing

Pre-deployment briefing for the Upper Missouri River Pallid Sturgeon Drift Study. Fish biologists and physical scientists from Montana Fish Wildlife and Parks, US Geological Survey, U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, University of Montana, Nebraska Game and Parks Commission, and US Army Corps of Engineers go over the sample design and assignments.

A person's hands with gloves on looking at a drift sampe
June 27, 2016

Processing a Drift Sample

Student Contractor Garrett Cook processes a drift sample collected on June 27 shortly after the free embryos and beads were released. Note the small cluster of pallid sturgeon free embryos and green beads in the lower portion of the sorting tray. These embryos and beads were elements of the Upper Missouri River drift experiment.

People distributing free embryos to boats
June 27, 2016

Distribution of Free Embryos to Boats

Distribution of free embryos to boats in preparation for mass release.

People on boats releasing larva into the water.
June 27, 2016

Larval Release

Simultaneous mass release of 700,000 free embryos from boats distributed across the channel of the Upper Missouri River.

June 15, 2016

The Phragmites Adaptive Management Framework (PAMF)

This is an introductory video to an adaptive management approach for the invasive plant Phragmites australis in the Great Lakes basin. An adaptive management framework is an iterative process of robust decision making aimed at reducing uncertainty over time, for a variety of stakeholders with differing backgrounds and interests, via system monitoring.

Filter Total Items: 286
Date published: March 3, 2014

WERC Center Director Steven Schwarzbach Retires

Steven Schwarzbach, Center Director of the USGS Western Ecological Research Center, has retired from federal service. WERC Deputy Center Director Dr. Keith Miles acted as Acting Center Director in the interim, and is now the official Center Director.

Date published: February 27, 2014

Burmese Pythons Pose Little Risk to People in Everglades

The estimated tens of thousands of Burmese pythons now populating the Everglades present a low risk to people in the park, according to a new assessment byU.S. Geological Survey and National Park Service scientists.

Attribution: Ecosystems, Southeast
Date published: February 26, 2014

"Nerds for Nature" Test out Tech Toys at SFBE Field Station in Vallejo

The USGS Western Ecological Research Center hosted passionate biogeeks and hackers on Dec. 8th for a "NatureNerdFest" and "Bio-Blitz". Members of the San Francisco Bay Area group Nerds for Nature gathered on Mare Island to test and share development ideas for research instruments and drones. The meetup was organized by N4N and Isa Woo of the USGS Western Ecological Research Center. 

Date published: February 24, 2014

Barred Owls Ousting Spotted Owls in the Pacific Northwest

An increase in the barred owl population is contributing to the decline of threatened Northern spotted owls, according to models developed by U.S. Geological Survey and U.S. Forest Service scientists.

Attribution: Ecosystems, Northwest
Date published: February 12, 2014

Identifying Bats By Sound

Recording bats' echolocation "calls" is the most efficient and least intrusive way of identifying different species of bats in a given area, providing insight into some populations that have been decimated by white-nose syndrome.

Date published: January 16, 2014

Huron-Erie Corridor Initiative partners receive prestigious Secretary of the Interior honor

The Huron-Erie Corridor Initiative received a 2013 Department of the Interior (DOI) Partners in Conservation award today, which is one of the highest recognitions bestowed on organizations by the U.S. Secretary of the Interior.

Date published: January 16, 2014

USGS Researcher Honored for Helping Managers Save Desert Fish from Extinction

Today, the Department of Interior honored U.S. Geological Survey biologist Gary Scoppettone and his colleagues for helping land managers save two species of fish from extinction. The species of unique desert fish, Cui-ui and Lahontan cutthroat trout, are considered sacred to the Pyramid Lake Paiute Tribe of Nevada.

Date published: June 26, 2013

On California's Beaches, Mallard Ducks Have Learned to Surf for Food

Mallards (Anas platyrhynchos) — that familiar duck species ubiquitous to park ponds with males parading their emerald-green heads — have picked up a new feeding habit along the beaches of Santa Barbara. These ducks have learned to surf. For sand crabs.

Date published: May 23, 2013

More Silent Springs: New Study Confirms Amphibian Decline Trends in U.S.

Frogs, toads, salamanders and other amphibians are less commonly found today in the United States than they were nine years ago, according to a new study from the USGS Amphibian Research and Monitoring Initiative (ARMI).

Date published: February 8, 2013

Biologist Roger Hothem Retires from USGS

A wildlife biologist and environmental contaminants expert with the Department of Interior for more than 30 years, USGS Western Ecological Research Center scientist and principal investigator Roger Hothem was given a fond farewell this January in Dixon, California.

Date published: October 29, 2010

Great Lakes Sea Lamprey Control To be Featured on Discovery Channel’s

ANN ARBOR, MI—Sea lamprey control is a “dirty job,” one that TV star Mike Rowe will take on during an upcoming episode of the Discovery Channel’s popular program Dirty Jobs.  The segment will first air on November 2, 2010 at 9:00 EST/8:00 CST.

Date published: October 25, 2010

Mountain Vegetation Impacted by Climate Change

Climate change has had a significant effect on mountain vegetation at low elevations in the past 60 years, according to a study done by the University of California at Davis, University of Wisconsin-Madison, and U.S. Geological Survey.