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: 745
Date published: October 30, 2017
Status: Active

Fire Severity Trends in the Western U.S.

How will increased drought affect forest fire severity? WERC’s Dr. Phil van Mantgem is testing the idea increased drought stress may affect forest fire severity independent of fire intensity. Drought stress prior to fire can affect tree health, potentially resulting in a higher sensitivity to fire-induced damage. Thus, with drought there may be ongoing increases in fire severity (the number of...

Date published: October 30, 2017
Status: Active

Contaminants in Waterbirds and Effects on Avian Reproduction

California’s Central Valley and San Francisco Bay Estuary have a long history of mercury contamination from past mercury mining and gold extraction. Waterbirds are particularly susceptible to mercury because of their use of wetland habitats where methylmercury (the most toxic and biologically available form) is produced and relatively low methylmercury exposure can reduce reproductive success...

Contacts: Josh T Ackerman
Date published: October 30, 2017
Status: Active

Coastal Ecosystem Response to Sea-level Rise

USGS WERC’s Dr. Karen Thorne, her team of reseachers, and her partners are currently taking a local site network approach to describe current and future conditions and projected responses of coastal ecosystems to sea-level rise and other stressors. The Coastal Ecosystem Response to Climate Change (CERCC) program’s goal is to understand how ecosystems vary in their ability to keep up with sea-...

Contacts: Karen Thorne
Date published: October 30, 2017
Status: Active

Breeding and Wintering Ecology of Waterfowl

Western U.S. wetlands provide critical habitat for wintering and breeding waterfowl in California. WERC's Dr. Josh Ackerman is working toward collecting data to understand factors influencing duck nest success, to improve and restore breeding habitat for resident duck populations in California, and understand composition of predator communities. To learn more about how USGS WERC is...

Contacts: Josh T Ackerman
Date published: October 30, 2017
Status: Active

Mercury Bioaccumulation in Wetlands

Wetlands provide numerous ecosystem services, but also can be sources of methylmercury production and export. Click the next tab to learn how WERC's Dr. Josh Ackerman is evaluating the ecological factors that drive contaminant bioaccumulation in wetland-dependent fish and wildlife.

Contacts: Josh T Ackerman
Date published: October 30, 2017
Status: Active

Modeling Sea-Level Rise in San Francisco Bay Estuary

With sea level rise, how will the coastal habitats of the San Francisco Bay Estuary change over the next 100 years? Mapping and modeling studies by Dr. Karen Thorne, WERC scientists, and partners have produced scenarios for this important coastal ecosystem.

Contacts: Karen Thorne
Date published: October 30, 2017
Status: Active

Pacific Nearshore Project

Sea otters are crucial indicators of the health of our nearshore waters and coastal resources, from kelp forests to fisheries. What clues does the sea otter's decline hold for our knowledge of ecosystem and global change? WERC's sea otter team and U.S. and Canadian researchers have teamed together to investigate. 

Relevance to USGS Missions:

This research project has direct...

Date published: October 30, 2017

Assessing Spatial Patterns in Genetic Diversity Across Species Assemblages

WERC's Dr. Amy Vandergast and colleagues merge genetic data with mapping and modeling tools to inform biodiversity conservation efforts. They define evolutionary significant units within species, reveal evolutionary mechanisms responsible for diversification, and identify regions with high genetic diversity for protection.

Contacts: Amy Vandergast
Date published: October 30, 2017
Status: Active

Wildland Fire Science in Forests and Deserts

Fuel conditions and fire regimes in western forests and deserts have been altered due to past land management, biological invasions, and recent extreme weather events and climate shifts. These changes have created extreme fire risk to local and regional communities, threatening their economic health related to wildland recreation, forest production, livestock operations, and other uses of...

Contacts: Matthew Brooks
Date published: October 30, 2017
Status: Active

Ecological Stressors - Rocky Coastlines, Mangroves, Marshes, Droughts, and Storms

Coastal estuaries that contain marshes and mangroves are currently being reshaped by changing ocean and atmospheric conditions through prolong drought, sea-level rise and increased extreme storm events. Many projected increases in sea-level are expected to result in loss of tidal wetlands and their component species. In addition, changing sediment loads, extreme tide and storm events, and...

Contacts: Karen Thorne
Date published: October 30, 2017

Molecular Species Identification

Dr. Amy Vandergast and team develop genetic approaches for species detection, individual mark recapture, and studying ecological associations (such as predator/prey relationships). These techniques often increase monitoring effectiveness and efficiency when replacing or combining with standard field methodologies.

Contacts: Amy Vandergast
Date published: October 30, 2017
Status: Active

Supporting Informed Responses to Sea-Level Rise

To facilitate communication and outreach of sea level rise research results and implications, Dr. Karen Thorne and members of USGS WERC are hosting in-person workshops along the Pacific coast at different sites in Washington, Oregon, and California.

Contacts: Karen Thorne
Filter Total Items: 30,779
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Year Published: 2018

Life history with emphasis on geographic variation

Every organism is defined by a set of vital rates that evolve to enhance lifetime reproductive fitness and survival of individuals and their progeny. These traits vary due to the complex but sometimes predictable interactions between individuals, populations and their environments. Collectively, these attributes are referred to as life history...

Roosenburg, Willem M.; Kennedy, Victor S.; Lovich, Jeffrey E.; Gibbons, J. Whitfield; Greene, Kathryn
Lovich, J.E., Gibbons, J.W., and Greene, K.M., 2018, Life history with emphasis on geographic variation, in Roosenburg, W.M., and Kennedy, V.S., eds., Ecology and conservation of the diamond-backed terrapin: Baltimore, Md., Johns Hopkins University Press, p. 63-80.

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Year Published: 2018

Effects of ocean acidification on salinity tolerance and seawater growth of Atlantic salmon Salmo salar smolts

Human activity has resulted in increasing atmospheric carbon dioxide (CO2), which will result in reduced pH and higher levels of CO2 in the ocean, a process known as ocean acidification. Understanding the effects of ocean acidification (OA) on fishes will be important to predicting and mitigating its consequences. Anadromous species such as...

McCormick, Stephen D.; Regish, Amy M.

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Year Published: 2018

Taxonomy: A history of controversy and uncertainty

No abstract available. 

Roosenburg, Willem M.; Kennedy, Victor S.; Lovich, Jeffrey E.; Hart, Kristen

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Year Published: 2018

Global conservation status of turtles and tortoises (order Testudines)

We present a review and analysis of the conservation status and International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN) threat categories of all 360 currently recognized species of extant and recently extinct turtles and tortoises (Order Testudines). Our analysis is based on the 2018 IUCN Red List status of 251 listed species, augmented by...

Rhodin, Anders G.J.; Stanford, Craig B.; van Dijk, Peter Paul; Eisemberg, Carla; Luiselli, Luca; Mittermeier, Russell A.; Hudson, Rick; Horne, Brian D.; Goode, Eric; Kuchling, Gerald; Walde, Andrew; Baard, Ernst H. W.; Berry, Kristin H.; Bertolero, Albert; Blanck, Torsten E. G.; Bour, Roger; Buhlmann, Kurt A.; Cayot, Linda J.; Collett, Sydney; Currylow, Andrea; Das, Indraneil; Diagne, Tomas; Ennen, Joshua R.; Forero-Medina, Germán; Frankel, Matthew G.; Fritz, Uwe; García, Gerardo; Gibbons, J. Whitfield; Gibbons, Paul M.; Shiping, Gong; Guntoro, Joko; Hofmeyr, Margaretha D.; Iverson, John B.; Kiester, A. Ross; Lau, Michael; Lawson, Dwight P.; Lovich, Jeffrey E.; Moll, Edward O.; Páez, Vivian P.; Palomo-Ramos, Rosalinda; Platt, Kalyar; Platt, Steven G.; Pritchard, Peter C. H.; Quinn, Hugh R.; Rahman, Shahriar Caesar; Randrianjafizanaka, Soary Tahafe; Schaffer, Jason; Selman, Will; Shaffer, H. Bradley; Sharma, Dionysius S. K.; Haitao, Shi; Singh, Shailendra; Spencer, Ricky; Stannard, Kahleana; Sutcliffe, Sarah; Thomson, Scott; Vogt, Richard C.

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Year Published: 2018

Elk research efforts

Presented the history of the NC elk herd and summarized early research to determine the population dispersal and mortality rates, assess habitat use, and evaluate elk’s impact on the national park to estimate the probability of success in establishing a permanent elk population in the Great Smoky Mountains National Park (GSMNP). Gave an overview...

Clark, Joseph D.

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Year Published: 2018

Informing our successors: What botanical information for Santa Cruz Island will researchers and conservation managers in the century ahead need the most?

Climate changes are predicted to drive changes in plant species composition and vegetation cover around the world. Preserved specimens and other botanical information that we gather today—a period future practitioners may look back on as an early stage of modern anthropogenic climate change—will be of value to conservation managers and...

Randall, John M.; McEachern, A. Kathryn; Knapp, John; Power, Paula; Junak, Steve; Gill, Kristina; Knapp, Denise; Guilliams, Matt

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Year Published: 2018

Habitat Needs Assessment‐II for the Upper Mississippi River Restoration Program: Linking science to management perspectives

The Upper Mississippi River Restoration (UMRR) Program vision statement is for a healthier and more resilient Upper Mississippi River ecosystem that sustains the river’s multiple uses. To address this vision, the UMRR Program recently developed a suite of 12 indicators that quantify aspects of ecosystem health and resilience (i.e., connectivity,...

McCain, Kat; Schmuecker, Sara; De Jager, Nathan R.

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Year Published: 2018

Assessment of carbon dioxide piscicide treatments

Few chemicals are approved to control or eradicate nuisance fish populations in the United States. Carbon dioxide (CO2) is currently being developed and studied as a new piscicide option for nonselective population control. This study evaluated dry ice (solid state CO2) as a simple CO2 delivery method during winter piscicide applications....

Cupp, Aaron R.; Smerud, Justin R.; Tix, John A.; Rivera, Jose M.; Kageyama, Stacie A.; Merkes, Christopher M.; Erickson, Richard A.; Amberg, Jon J.; Gaikowski, Mark P.

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Year Published: 2018

Agriculture

Agricultural production is a fundamental activity conducted on 45% of the U.S. land area, 55% of Mexico’s land area, and 7% of Canada’s land area (World Bank 2016). Because of this vast spatial extent and the strong role that land management plays in how agricultural ecosystems function, agricultural lands and activities represent a large portion...

Cavallaro, Nancy; Shrestha, Gyami; Birdsey, Richard; Mayes, Melanie A.; Najjar, Raymond G.; Reed, Sasha C.; Romero-Lankao, Patricia; Zhu, Zhiliang; Hristov, Alexander N.; Johnson, Jane M. F.; Rice, Charles W.; Brown, Molly E.; Conant, Richard T.; Del Grosso, Stephen J.; Gurwick, Noel P.; Rotz, C. Alan; Sainju, Upendra M.; Skinner, R. Howard; West, Tristram O.; Runkle, Benjamin R. K.; Janzen, Henry; Reed, Sasha C.; Cavallaro, Nancy; Shrestha, Gyami

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Year Published: 2018

Seasonal surveillance confirms the range expansion of Aedes japonicus japonicas (Theobald) (Diptera: Culicidae) to the Hawaiian Islands of Oahu and Kauai

The Asian bush mosquito, Aedes japonicus japonicus (Theobald) was not known to occur in the Hawaii archipelago until it was identified on the island of Hawaii in 2003. This mosquito species remained undetected on the neighboring islands for 8 years before it was discovered at the Honolulu International Airport on Oahu in 2012. By 2015, four Ae. j...

Harwood, James; Fiorenzanoa, Jodi; Gerardoa, Elizabeth; Black, Theodore; Hasty, Jeomhee; Lapointe, Dennis

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Year Published: 2018

Increasing temperature seasonality may overwhelm shifts in soil moisture to favor shrub grass dominance in Colorado Plateau drylands

Ecosystems in the southwestern U.S. are hotspots for climate change, and are predicted to experience continued warming and drying. In these water-limited systems, the balance between herbaceous and woody plant abundance impacts biodiversity and ecosystem processes, highlighting the need to understand how climate change will influence functional...

Gremer, Jennifer R.; Andrews, Caitlin M.; Norris, Jodi R.; Thomas, Lisa P.; Munson, Seth M.; Duniway, Michael C.; Bradford, John B.

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Year Published: 2018

Taxonomic evaluation of the three “type” specimens of the fringe-footed shrew, Sorex fimbripes Bachman, 1837 (Mammalia: Soricidae) and recommended nomenclatural status of the name

John Bachman (1837:391) described the “fringe-footed shrew,” Sorex fimbripes Bachman, 1837, in his landmark monograph on the North American Soricidae (Mammalia: Eulipotyphla), in which he recognized 13 uniquely New World species. Characters he attributed to S. fimbripes resulted in its being interpreted as a tiny, semi-aquatic species and...

Woodman, Neal

Filter Total Items: 720
February 23, 2016

Telemetry by air

Once a grizzly bear is radio collared, biologists can track its movements with telemetry via airplane.  The IGBST also used the latest telemetry technologies, which allows downloading of GPS data from the radio collar via satellites.

February 23, 2016

Culvert trap

Biologists place a culvert trap in locations that they need data from.  Field crews will set up the culvert trap and check it daily, usually in the morning, to determine if a bear has been captured.  Additionally, trap doors are checked via radio telemetry. 

February 23, 2016

Telemetry by foot

Once a grizzly bear is radio collared, biologists can track its movements with telemetry on foot.   

February 23, 2016

Culvert trap and bait

Biologists use road-killed ungulates such as deer, elk, or bison as bait in the traps. 

February 23, 2016

At the capture site

At capture sites with road access, biologists drive to a trap with a bear inside to set up for collecting biological data. 

February 23, 2016

An immobilized bear.

Biologists use a syringe pole to immobilize the captured grizzly bear.  It takes approximately 10 minutes for a bear to become immobilized.  

February 23, 2016

Ready to remove from the trap

Biologists have immobilized the bear and prepare to lift it out of the trap and onto the tarp for data collection.  Once on the tarp the bear is easier to move. 

February 23, 2016

Preparing for collection of samples

A biologist prepares to collect biological information from the bear they have captured.  Biologists collect hair samples for genetic analysis, weigh the bear,  and gather numerous measurements of the body, such as the head, paws, claws, teeth, etc.  Overall condition of the bear is assessed as well, including a body fat measurement.

February 23, 2016

Getting the bear's weight

One of the first measurements taken is the bear’s weight using a quadpod and electronic scale. 

February 23, 2016

Getting set up

Biologists are very careful to keep the grizzly bear under shade and protected from the elements while they collect biological data.  Vital signs are monitored throughout the handling period. 

February 23, 2016

Close up

The kerchief over the grizzly bear’s eyes protects it from dust and debris and reduces visual stimulation. The small tubing in its nose, known as a nasal cannula, delivers oxygen to the animal while it is tranquilized.  

February 23, 2016

Assessing body fat percentage of grizzly bear

Field personnel use bioelectrical impedance to assess body fat percentage of captured bears.  The procedure is similar to how body fat is measured in humans and is based on the resistance of body tissues to the flow of a small, harmless electrical signal.  The electrical current is impeded more by fat tissues compared with tissues that are composed mostly of water, thus

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