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: 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

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

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

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
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

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

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
Status: Active

Aridlands Disturbances and Restoration Ecology

Desert landscapes are rapidly changing due to increases in invasive plant species, frequency of wildfires, urban and energy development, recreational use, military training, and climate variation. Dr. Todd Esque, USGS researchers, and collaborators are working together to investigate these changes and provide managers with key information that can be used to manage natural resources more...

Contacts: Todd Esque
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: 30,899
Publication Thumbnail
Year Published: 2019

Stable isotope analysis enhances our understanding of diamondback terrapin Malaclemys terrapin foraging ecology

Dietary studies on generalist predators may provide valuable information on spatial or temporal changes in the structure of ecological communities. We initiated this study to provide baseline data and determine the utility of stable isotope analysis (SIA) to evaluate the foraging strategies of an opportunistic reptilian predator, the diamondback...

Denton, Mathew J.; Demopoulos, Amanda W.J.; Baldwin, John D.; Smith, Brian; Hart, Kristen M.

Publication Thumbnail
Year Published: 2019

On the development of a magnetic susceptibility‐based tracer for aeolian sediment transport research

Aeolian processes — the erosion, transport, and deposition of sediment by wind — play important geomorphological and ecological roles in drylands. These processes are known to impact the spatial patterns of soil, nutrients, plant‐available water, and vegetation in many dryland ecosystems. Tracers, such as rare earth elements and stable isotopes...

Ravi, Sujith; Gonzales, Howell B.; Buynevich, Ilya V.; Li, Junran; Sankey, Joel B.; Dukes, David; Wang, Guan
Ravi, S., Gonzales, H.B., Buynevich, I.V., Li, J., Sankey, J.B., Dukes, D., and Wang, G., 2018, On the development of a magnetic susceptibility-based tracer for aeolian sediment transport research: Earth Surface Processes and Landforms, online, https://doi.org/10.1002/esp.4536.

Publication Thumbnail
Year Published: 2019

Movements of female Sage Grouse Centrocercus urophasianus during incubation recess

We combined GPS data‐loggers, VHF transmitters, and DVR video‐monitoring to measure fine‐scale movement patterns during daily incubation recesses by female Sage Grouse Centrocercus urophasianus, a species with uniparental incubation that has experienced widespread population decline and distributional contraction. Most (69.6%) Sage Grouse...

Dudko, Jonathan E.; Coates, Peter S.; Delehanty, David J.

Publication Thumbnail
Year Published: 2019

A Bayesian life-cycle model to estimate escapement at maximum sustained yield in salmon based on limited information

Life-cycle models combine several strengths for estimating population parameters and biological reference points of harvested species and are particularly useful for those exhibiting distinct habitat shifts and experiencing contrasting environments. Unfortunately, time series data are often limited to counts of adult abundance and harvest. By...

Ohlberger, Jan; Brinkman, Samuel J.; Crain, Patrick; Pess, George R.; Duda, Jeffrey J.; Buehrens, Thomas W.; Quinn, Thomas P.; Hilborn , Ray

Publication Thumbnail
Year Published: 2019

Movement ecology of reintroduced migratory Whooping Cranes

No abstract available.

Teitelbaum, Claire S.; Converse, Sarah J.; Fagan, William F.; Mueller, Thomas
Mueller, T., Teitelbaum, C.S., Fagan, W.F., and Converse, S.J., 2018, Movement Ecology of Reintroduced Migratory Whooping Cranes, in French, J.B., Jr., Converse, S.J., and Austin, J.E., editors, Whooping Cranes: Biology and Conservation: San Diego, CA, Academic Press, Biodiversity of the World: Conservation from Genes to Landscapes, p. 217-238.

Publication Thumbnail
Year Published: 2019

Reproduction and reproductive strategies relevant to management of Whooping Cranes ex situ

Due to the small population size (∼400 birds) and continuing threats to wild Whooping Cranes (Grus americana), an ex situ (captive) population is maintained to contribute to the recovery of the species. The goals of the captive breeding program are to provide opportunity for research and birds for reintroduction. However, reproduction...

Songsasen, Nucharin; Converse, Sarah J.; Brown, Megan
Songsasen, N., Converse, S.J., and Brown, M., 2018, Reproduction and Reproductive Strategies Relevant to Management of Whooping Cranes Ex Situ, in French, J.B., Jr., Converse, S.J., and Austin, J.E., editors, Whooping Cranes: Biology and Conservation: San Diego, CA, Academic Press, Biodiversity of the World: Conservation from Genes to Landscapes, p. 373-388.

Publication Thumbnail
Year Published: 2019

Population dynamics of reintroduced Whooping Cranes

Because of the small size and restricted range of the Aransas-Wood Buffalo Population, reintroduction is a prominent element of the recovery effort to ensure persistence of Whooping Cranes (Grus americana). A fundamental objective of all Whooping Crane reintroduction efforts is the establishment of a self-sustaining population. Therefore...

Converse, Sarah J.; Servanty, Sabrina; Moore, Clinton T.; Runge, Michael C.
Converse, S.J., Servanty, S., Moore, C.T., and Runge, M.C., 2018, Population Dynamics of Reintroduced Whooping Cranes, in French, J.B., Jr., Converse, S.J., and Austin, J.E., editors, Whooping Cranes: Biology and Conservation: San Diego, CA, Academic Press, Biodiversity of the World: Conservation from Genes to Landscapes, p. 139-160.

Publication Thumbnail
Year Published: 2019

Whooping Cranes past and present

The Whooping Crane (Grus americana), endemic to North America, is the rarest of all crane species. It is believed that in the early 1800s, the Whooping Crane was widespread in North America, though it was never very abundant. Whooping Crane numbers decreased precipitously as westward migration of Euro-American settlers converted ...

French, John B.; Converse, Sarah J.; Austin, Jane E.
French, J.B., Jr., Converse, S.J., and Austin, J.E., 2018, Whooping Cranes Past and Present, in French, J.B., Jr., Converse, S.J., and Austin, J.E., editors, Whooping Cranes: Biology and Conservation: San Diego, CA, Academic Press, Biodiversity of the World: Conservation from Genes to Landscapes, p. 3-16.

Publication Thumbnail
Year Published: 2019

Reproductive failure in the Eastern Migratory Population: The interaction of research and management

The reintroduction of the Eastern Migratory Population of Whooping Cranes (Grus americana) has shown the most promise of any effort to date toward the establishment of a self-sustaining population. However, reproduction – including both nest success and chick survival – has been a major challenge. Here, we review the research and...

Converse, Sarah J.; Strobel, Bradley N.; Barzen, Jeb A.
Converse, S.J., Strobel, B.N., and Barzen, J.A., 2018, Reproductive Failure in the Eastern Migratory Population: The Interaction of Research and Management, in French, J.B., Jr., Converse, S.J., and Austin, J.E., editors, Whooping Cranes: Biology and Conservation: San Diego, CA, Academic Press, Biodiversity of the World: Conservation from Genes to Landscapes, p. 161-178.

Publication Thumbnail
Year Published: 2019

Mortality in Aransas-Wood Buffalo Whooping Cranes: Timing, location, and causes

For long-lived species with low fecundity rates, population growth rate can be sensitive to changes in annual survival. Understanding where, when, and why animals die provides useful information for prioritizing conservation practices designed to increase survival. As part of a satellite tracking study, we identified 19 confirmed and suspected...

Pearse, Aaron T.; Brandt, David A.; Hartup, Barry K.; Bidwell, Mark T.
Pearse, A.T., D.A. Brandt, B.K. Hartup, and M.T. Bidwell. 2018. Mortality in Aransas-Wood Buffalo whooping cranes: timing, location, and causes. In J.B. French, S.J. Converse, and J.E. Austin, editors. Whooping Cranes: Biology and Conservation. Biodiversity of the World: Conservation from Genes to Landscapes. Academic Press, San Diego, CA

Publication Thumbnail
Year Published: 2019

Revisiting the historic distribution and habitats of the Whooping Crane

The endangered Whooping Crane (Grus americana) historically had a wide distribution that covered diverse ecoregions across North America while retaining consistent habitat preferences within each ecoregion. We reevaluate the historic information compiled by Robert Porter Allen in 1952 and added 74 other records. Based on the ecological...

Austin, Jane E.; Hayes, Matthew A.; Barzen, Jeb A.
Austin, J.E., Hayes, M.A., Barzen, J.A. 2018. Revisiting the historic distribution and habitats of the whooping crane. In: J.B. French, Converse, S.J., and Austin, J.E., editors. Whooping Cranes: Biology and Conservation. Biodiversity of the World: Conservation from Genes to Landscapes. Academic Press, San Diego, CA. p 25-88.

Publication Thumbnail
Year Published: 2019

Changing station coverage impacts temperature trends in the Upper Colorado River Basin

Over the Upper Colorado River Basin (UCRB), temperatures in widely used gridded data products do not warm as much as mean temperatures from a stable set of U.S. Historical Climatology Network (USHCN) stations, located at generally lower elevations, in most months of the year. This is contrary to expectations of elevation-dependent warming, which...

McAfee, Stephanie A.; McCabe, Gregory; Gray, Stephen; Pederson, Gregory T.

Filter Total Items: 741
Osprey Chicks on the James River
April 15, 2016

DDT nearly wiped out these birds, now they’re making a comeback

Washington Post article on the impacts of DDT on birds.

A whooping crane mother and her two chicks in Louisiana, 2016
April 13, 2016

A whooping crane mother and her two chicks in Louisiana, 2016

Female whooping crane L6-12 and chicks LW1-16 and LW2-16, April 13, 2016. These are the first wild-hatched whooper chicks in Louisiana since 1939. Their parents, a four-year-old female and a three-year-old male, were raised at USGS’ Patuxent Wildlife Research Center in Maryland, where researchers work to rebuild free-flying populations of the bugle-voiced, endangered birds

Assessment of the Cottrellville Shoreline Restoration Project
April 5, 2016

Assessment of the Cottrellville Shoreline Restoration Project

USGS scientists conduct a post-construction assessment of the Cottrellville Shoreline Restoration Project on the St. Clair River, Michigan.

Sonoran desert spring wildflower display.
March 31, 2016

Sonoran Desert Wildflowers and Invasive Species

Ecosystems are changing at a rapid pace. It can be difficult to determine if a landscape is in need of restoration. In this photo of the spring wildflower bloom in the Sonoran desert, an invasive annual grass, Bromus rubens (red brome), is pervasive. Land managers have to make decisions about when, where, and how to intervene in a system. Does this grass pose a threat to

...
Image: Measuring a Frog in the Cascades
March 15, 2016

Measuring a Frog in the Cascades

USGS researchers Brome McCreary (orange vest) and Chris Pearl take measurements on Cascades frog at a mountain lake in Oregon.

March 15, 2016

Mange in Wolves of Yellowstone National Park

This video describes USGS research utilizing remote thermal imaging cameras to study the extent and impact of mange on wolves in Yellowstone National Park.

February 25, 2016

Whitebark pine cone and seeds.

Image of whitebark pine cone and seeds.

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.