Mission Areas


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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: 740
Date published: October 30, 2018
Status: Active

Monitoring and Detection

USGS scientists collect data and develop tools and techniques to minimize potential negative effects of new energy development. These tools are critical for supporting management efforts to monitor and improve effectiveness of how facilities are located, built, and operated.

Contacts: Mona Khalil
Date published: October 30, 2018
Status: Active

Mitigation and Compensation

USGS supports the U.S. goal to increase energy production from clean, renewable sources by conducting research into minimizing or mitigating potential negative effects of an expanding renewable energy infrastructure. USGS scientists collect data and develop tools and techniques to minimize potential negative effects of new energy development. Monitoring protocols and habitat-use models are...

Contacts: Mona Khalil
Date published: October 29, 2018
Status: Active

Deterrent Technologies

USGS scientists are testing bird and bat deterrent devices (such as ultrasonic acoustic deterrents) as well as operational management strategies that can cost-effectively reduce wildlife fatalities while allowing wind operators to generate this carbon-free energy.

Contacts: Mona Khalil
Date published: October 29, 2018
Status: Active

Migration and Movement

USGS assists state fish and wildlife agencies, land and wildlife managers, and other stakeholders by producing applied science-based tools to guide wind and solar energy development to locations where it will have minimal impact on wildlife. As a basis for these tools, USGS researchers study the movement and migration of wildlife.

Contacts: Mona Khalil
Date published: October 29, 2018
Status: Active

Fatality Estimation

USGS has made significant strides in addressing research needs identified by resource managers and industry to understand wildlife interactions with turbines, estimate causes and magnitude of fatalities, develop wildlife and mortality survey protocols, assess population effects, describe migrations and movement patterns, and develop potential mitigation measures. USGS also has developed tools...

Contacts: Mona Khalil
Date published: October 29, 2018
Status: Active


For big game, USGS research on migrating animals interacting with housing and energy development suggests that this development and change to migration routes can alter optimal foraging. Continued energy development will lead to the loss of the foraging benefit of migration. 

Contacts: Mona Khalil
Date published: October 29, 2018
Status: Active


Wind-generated electricity in the marine environment promises to be an important source of renewable energy, but poses a potential risk to seabirds that share the airspace with wind turbines. USGS research assists regulatory agencies such as BOEM and USFWS evaluate the potential for adverse effects of wind facilities and other offshore activities on seabirds. To this end, scientist study...

Contacts: Mona Khalil
Date published: October 26, 2018
Status: Active

Landbirds and Waterfowl

Potential impacts of large wind energy developments to migratory landbirds and waterfowl remain poorly understudied even though thousands of turbines are actively generating power in these habitats and numerous wind energy projects have been proposed. 

Contacts: Mona Khalil
Date published: October 26, 2018
Status: Active


Wind and solar energy development in reptile habitats is one of several threats, especially to critical species like the desert tortoise. USGS science supports recovery efforts for the desert tortoise, because populations have continued to decline in spite of designation of critical habitat and publication of a recovery plan. For example, between 2005-2014, populations in critical habitats...

Contacts: Mona Khalil
Date published: October 26, 2018
Status: Active


Projects with in the Energy and Wildlife program use many abbreviations to describe partners, equipment, and places. The list below gives the abbreviation and full name of the abbreviations used throughout the Energy and Wildlife program website.

Contacts: Mona Khalil
Date published: October 24, 2018
Status: Active


Hydropower has served as a significant and reliable source of electricity to many communities and industries across the nation for more than five decades. One of the largest challenges in managing rivers with hydropower resources is maintenance or restoration of viable fisheries that support commercial and sports fishing economic activity, for migratory species such as salmon, herring, and...

Contacts: Mona Khalil
Date published: October 24, 2018
Status: Active


USGS is evaluating how wind energy resources in California affect patterns of raptor use and movement through various habitats. Recent development of energy resources such as wind, oil, gas, and solar, can potentially affect landscapes in ways that require changes in raptor management practices. 

Contacts: Mona Khalil
Filter Total Items: 118
Date published: December 11, 2017

Gulf of Mexico Dashboard

The USGS Southeast Regional Office has funded a cross-center collaboration between the Wetland and Aquatic Research Center and the Texas Water Science Center for the development of the Gulf of Mexico Water Dashboard. 

Date published: November 28, 2017

Data collected in 2008-2014 to assess nearshore subtidal community responses to increased sediment load during removal of the Elwha River dams, Washington State, USA

Data are time series of substrate grain size, remotely sensed water column turbidity, and measures of abundance (e.g., density, percent cover) of the nearshore subtidal (3-17 m depth) benthic community (vegetation, invertebrates, and fish) collected before (2008-2011) and during dam removal (2012-2014).

Date published: November 27, 2017

DATA RELEASE - Ground-dwelling arthropod composition, Colorado River, Grand Canyon, 2009—Data

These data were compiled from pitfall traps deployed at three sites, along a 25 kilometers (km) stretch of the Colorado River, immediately downstream of Glen Canyon Dam, in Glen Canyon National Recreation Area. Each site had both pre and post-dam riparian habitats present. The purpose of the sampling was to determine if arthropod abundance, diversity and feeding guilds differed between...

Date published: November 21, 2017

Annual California sea otter stranding data

The California Sea Otter Stranding Network is part of the USGS effort to monitor southern sea otters (Enhydra lutris nereis) and provide data to the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service. Since 1985, stranded otters from throughout their California coastal range have been collected and analyzed to inform resource management on recovery and conservation of the species.

Date published: October 31, 2017

Guide to the Plants of Louisiana

This guide to the vascular plants of Louisiana includes a database of plant characters, a search engine and plant images. Photographs include images of leaves, fruit, flower, stem, bark and other key identification features. Information about plants can be accessed by searching plant lists either by scientific name or common name.

Date published: October 30, 2017

Movement Maps for Suisun Marsh Waterfowl and Waterbird Studies

Suisun Marsh is a critical habitat for wintering and breeding waterbirds in California. USGS is working with the California DWR to examine the trends in bird decline and to assess the habitat factors driving long-term survival of waterfowl, rails, and other birds in this important area.

Date published: October 18, 2017

DATA RELEASE - Riparian Vegetation and Environmental Variables, Colorado River, 2014—Data

These data consist of species relative cover; percent cover of dead plant material, soil and rock; and a variety of broad- and local- scale environmental variables. These data relate to sample sites along the Colorado River through Grand Canyon between Lees Ferry and river mile 245. Sample sites were distributed among three geomorphic features: channel margins, debris fans, and sandbars.

Date published: October 17, 2017

Shapefiles and Historical Aerial Photographs, Little Missouri River, 1939-2003

The data archive contains the aerial photographs and channel delineations used in our analysis. The images have been geo-referenced to the 1995 digital orthophoto quarter quadrangles as described by Miller and Friedman (2009). The channel delineations for all photo years (including 2003) and the delineation of the outer flood-plain boundary are stored as shapefiles.

Date published: August 7, 2017

Atypical Feeding Behavior of Long-tailed Ducks in the Wake of a Commercial Fishing Boat while Clamming

Data represents analyses of gizzard and gullet (esophagus and proventriculus) of nine ducks using traditional techniques

Date published: July 27, 2017

An Online Database for IHN Virus in Pacific Salmonid Fish: MEAP-IHNV

The Molecular Epidemiology of Aquatic Pathogens (MEAP)-IHNV Database

The MEAP-IHNV database provides access to detailed data for anyone interested in IHNV molecular epidemiology, such as fish health professionals, fish culture facility managers, and academic researchers.

Date published: July 12, 2017

Development of a Multimetric Index for Integrated Assessment of Salt Marsh Ecosystem Condition

This dataset is comprised of eight files related to salt marsh monitoring data or measures of of human disturbance (i.e. human impacts in terms of physical, chemical, and land-use stressors) collected at 33 marsh study units (MSUs) in five National Parks within the NPS Northeast Coastal and Barrier Network (NCBN) along the NE coast of the US.

Date published: July 11, 2017

Analysis of Land Disturbance and Pygmy Rabbit Occupancy Values Associated With Oil and Gas Extraction in Southwestern Wyoming, 2012

Germaine, S.S., Carter, S.K., Ignizio, D.A., and Freeman, A.T., 2017, Analysis of Land Disturbance and Pygmy Rabbit Occupancy Values Associated With Oil and Gas Extraction in Southwestern Wyoming, 2012: U.S. Geological Survey data release, https://doi.org/10.5066/F7BR8QDD. DOI: 10.5066/F7BR8QDD

Filter Total Items: 4,609
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

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

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

Waterfowl spring migratory behavior and avian influenza transmission risk in the changing landscape of the East Asian-Australasian Flyway

Avian influenza has advanced from a regional concern to a global health issue with significant economic, trade, and public health implications. Wild birds, particularly waterfowl (Anseriformes), are known reservoirs for low-pathogenic avian influenza viruses (AIV) and recent studies have shown their potential in the spread of highly pathogenic...

Sullivan, Jeffery D.; Takekawa, John Y.; Spragens, Kyle A.; Newman, Scott H.; Xiao, Xiangming; Leader, Paul J.; Smith, Bena; Prosser, Diann J.

Year Published: 2018

Prevalence and risk factors of Trichomonas gallinae and trichomonosis in golden eagle (Aquila chrysaetos) nestlings in western North America

Avian trichomonosis, caused by the protozoan Trichomonas gallinae, affects bird-eating raptors worldwide. Raptors can develop trichomonosis by feeding on infected prey, particularly Rock Pigeons (Columba livia), which are a reservoir for T. gallinae. Raptors may be particularly vulnerable to T. gallinae infection in degraded...

Dudek, Benjamin M; Kochert, Michael N.; Barnes, Joseph G.; Bloom, Peter H.; Papp, Joseph M.; Gerhold, Richard W.; Purple, Kathryn E.; Jacobson, Kenneth V.; Preston, Charles R.; Vennum, Chris R.; Watson, James W.; Heath, Julie A.

Year Published: 2018

Building a response network to investigate potential pathogens associated with unionid mortality events

Unexplained mortality events have confounded the mussel conservation community for over 30 years. While the effects of chemical pollutants and environmental factors have been examined, few investigations have focused on the identification of potential mussel pathogens. Consequently, very little is known regarding the impact that pathogens have on...

Leis, Eric; Waller, Diane L.; Knowles, Susan N.; Goldberg, Tony; Putnam, Joel G.; Richard, Jordan; Erickson, Sarah; Blevins, Emilie; Weinzinger, Jesse

Year Published: 2018

Identifying opportunities for long-lasting habitat conservation and restoration in Hawaii’s shifting climate

Conservation efforts in isolated archipelagos such as Hawaii often focus on habitat-based conservation and restoration efforts that benefit multiple species. Unfortunately, identifying locations where such efforts are safer from climatic shifts is still challenging. We aimed to provide a method to approximate these potential habitat shifts for...

Fortini, Lucas B.; Jacobi, James D.

Year Published: 2018

Accounting for surveyor effort in large-scale monitoring programs

Accounting for errors in wildlife surveys is necessary for reliable status assessments and quantification of uncertainty in estimates of population size. We apply a hierarchical log-linear Poisson regression model that accounts for multiple sources of variability in count data collected for the Integrated Waterbird Management and Monitoring...

Aagaard, Kevin; Lyons, James E.; Thogmartin, Wayne E.

Year Published: 2018

Natural resource condition assessment: Olympic National Park

The Natural Resource Assessment Program aims to document condition and trends of selected park resources while identifying emerging issues and information needs. This information is intended to serve as a platform for natural resource managers to use in developing future resource stewardship priorities and planning.Olympic National Park (OLYM) on...

Mccaffery, Rebecca; Jenkins, Kurt J.

Year Published: 2018

Fish behavior and abundance monitoring near a floating surface collector in North Fork Reservoir, Clackamas River, Oregon, using multi-beam acoustic imaging sonar

An imaging sonar was used to assess the behavior and abundance of fish sized the same as salmonid smolt and bull trout (Salvelinus confluentus) at the entrance to the juvenile fish floating surface collector (FSC) at North Fork Reservoir, Oregon. The purpose of the FSC is to collect downriver migrating juvenile salmonids (Chinook salmon [...

Smith, Collin D.; Plumb, John M.; Adams, Noah S.
Smith, C.D., Plumb J.M., and Adams, N.S. 2018, Fish behavior and abundance monitoring near a floating surface collector in North Fork Reservoir, Clackamas River, Oregon, using multi-beam acoustic imaging sonar: U.S. Geological Survey Open-File Report 2018-1182, 28 p., https://doi.org/10.3133/ofr20181182.

Year Published: 2018

Invasive rat control is an efficient, yet insufficient, method for recovery of the critically endangered Hawaiian plant hau kuahiwi (Hibiscadelphus giffardianus)

Biological invasions of rodents and other species have been especially problematic on tropical islands. Invasive Rattus rattus consumption of Hibiscadelphus giffardianus (Malvaceae; common Hawaiian name hau kuahiwi) fruit and seeds has been hypothesized to be the most-limiting factor inhibiting the critically endangered tree, but this has not been...

Gill, Nathan S.; Yelenik, Stephanie G.; Banko, Paul C.; Dixon, Christopher B.; Jaenecke, Kelly; Peck, Robert

Filter Total Items: 689
Giant gartersnake (Thamnophis gigas)
May 14, 2018

Threatened Giant Gartersnake (Thamnophis gigas)

Threatened giant gartersnake (Thamnophis gigas). This semi-aquatic snake lives in rice fields and the remaining wetlands of California's Central Valley.

Sonoran desert scene showing invasion by red brome grass and fire scars on a saguaro cactus.
April 30, 2018

Red Brome Carries Fire and Burns Saguaros

Bromus Rubens (red brome) is an invasive annual grass that grows in warmer deserts of the Southwest U.S. It can carry fires in systems that aren't fire adapted, causing lasting damage to desert flora, as shown here in the Sonoran desert north of Phoenix, AZ. The

April 26, 2018

PubTalk 4/2018 - Coral Reefs

Title: The Role of U.S. Coral Reefs in Coastal Protection - Rigorously valuing flood reduction benefits to inform coastal zone management decisions

  • Coral reefs are a first line of coastal defense
  • We can account for the physical defense that reefs provide
  • We can provide value-based information to guide restoration efforts at management-relevant
Two men stand in a grassland beneath a sky filled with fluffy cumulus clouds and a blue sky.
March 31, 2018

Standing in the field with mangers

Touring public lands, guided by the people who manage the lands, is a important to RAMPS. On these tours we get to meet the passionate people, understand their challenges and aspirations, and help make steps towards innovative science-based solutions. In this photo staff from BLM's Aqua Fria National Monument stand with USGS scientist, Seth Munson and discuss how to

Thermal habitat mapping using kayak-mounted sensors
March 26, 2018

June 2018 "USGS At Work" category winner Carrie Blakeslee

Jeff Cole, USGS Northern Appalachian Research Laboratory, using temperature sensors and a humminbird sonar system mounted on a kayak to map the thermal habitat of the East Branch (Fishs Eddy, New York) of the Delaware River.

Southern Sea Otters Floating in Morro Bay, CA
March 6, 2018

Southern Sea Otters Floating in Morro Bay, CA

Southern sea otters (Enhydra lutris nereis) float in Morro Bay, CA.

View of the sonoran desert at Organ Pipe Cactus National Monument showing an organ pipe cactus and mountains of Mexico
February 28, 2018

Organ Pipe Cactus National Monument

Organ pipe cactus are rare in the Sonoran desert in the U.S. They can only be found in and around Organ Pipe Cactus National Monument, shown here. The distribution of Organ Pipe Cactus is limited due to lack of tolerance for cold temperatures. The biota of the Sonoran desert is particularly senstive to disturbance. Soils often erode quickly once vegetation is removed. The

February 28, 2018

Bee Laboratory (Instagram Story)

Instagram story showing the USGS Bee Inventory and Monitoring Lab clearing invasive species from a field.

Asian carp removal in Missouri
February 23, 2018

Asian Carp Removal in Missouri

In 2018, USGS and partners completed an incredible feat against a harmful aquatic invasive species when over 240,000 pounds of invasive Silver Carp and Bighead Carp were removed from Creve Coeur Lake in Maryland Heights, Missouri.

Female northern harrier gaze
February 9, 2018

Female Northern Harrier (Circus cyaneus) Gaze

A female northern harrier (Circus cyaneus) gazes into the camera at Suisun Marsh, CA.

Manatee Health Assessment
February 1, 2018

Manatee Health Assessment

USGS conducts a health assessment on a mantee in Crystal River, Florida.

Picture of field water-level monitoring gage EDEN 13
January 31, 2018

Field water-level monitoring gage EDEN 13

Field water-level monitoring gage EDEN 13. Photograph by Michael Oliver, U.S. Geological Survey.
U.S. Geological Survey Fact Sheet 2017–3069
Version 1.1, January 2018

Filter Total Items: 284
Date published: July 17, 2017

Wildlife Cameras Offer Insight on Geese for Industry and Researchers in the Arctic

Direct encounters with humans can increase the likelihood that nesting geese will lose their eggs to predators, according to a recent study released Monday, July 17.

Date published: July 12, 2017

Flexibility in Behavior of Some Animals Helps Them Accommodate a Changing Climate

A new study by the U.S. Geological Survey and its partners has identified situations and conditions where some animals display behavioral flexibility – the ability to rapidly change behavior in response to short – or long-term environmental changes such as climate variability. 

Date published: July 12, 2017

USGS: Louisiana’s Rate of Coastal Wetland Loss Continues to Slow

Lack of Major Hurricanes Since 2008 Is Likely the Main Reason

Date published: July 10, 2017

Hawaiian Birds Rapidly Colonize Young Restoration Forest

Forest birds on the island of Hawaii are responding positively to being restored in one of the largest, ongoing reforestation projects at Hakalau Forest National Wildlife Refuge, according to a new study released July 10 in the journal Restoration Ecology.

Date published: July 5, 2017

Return of the Yellowstone Grizzly Bear

From the journals of Lewis & Clark, April 13, 1805 (in the vicinity of Pouch Point Recreation Area - 16 miles south of New Town, North Dakota):

Date published: July 5, 2017

Hot new imagery of wintering bats suggests a group behavior for battling white-nose syndrome

Hot new imagery from temperature-sensing cameras suggests that bats who warm up from hibernation together throughout the winter may be better at surviving white nose syndrome, a disease caused by a cold-loving fungus ravaging insect-eating bat populations in the United States and Canada.

Date published: June 29, 2017

More Milkweeds Located Throughout the Landscape Can Help Conserve Monarchs

Adding milkweeds and other native flowering plants into midwestern agricultural lands is key to restoring monarch butterflies, with milkweed sowers from all sectors of society being critically needed for success. 

Date published: June 26, 2017

Reptile Skin Grown in Lab for First Time, Helps Study Endangered Turtle Disease

Scientists recently reconstructed the skin of endangered green turtles, marking the first time that skin of a non-mammal was successfully engineered in a laboratory, according to a recently published U.S. Geological Survey study. In turn, the scientists were able to grow a tumor-associated virus to better understand certain tumor diseases.

Date published: June 26, 2017

Lake Harvests are Likely More Fruitful than We Knew

Harvests from freshwater fisheries such as the Great Lakes could total more than 12 million tons a year globally and contribute more to global food supplies and economies than previous estimates indicate, according to a study published today by Michigan State University and the U.S. Geological Survey.

Date published: June 22, 2017

Oral Plague Vaccine Helps Reduce Outbreaks in Prairie Dog Colonies

Prairie dogs in the wild are less likely to succumb to plague after they ingest peanut-butter-flavored bait that contains a vaccine against the disease, according to a U.S. Geological Survey study published today in the journal EcoHealth.  

Date published: June 22, 2017

Lessons from a Tsunami Could Help Protect Seabirds in the Face of Rising Seas

Sudden flooding hit islands of global importance for Pacific birds highlighting threats and opportunities for conservation planning

Date published: June 19, 2017

Snake Fungal Disease Identified in Wild British Snakes for First Time

Europe’s wild snakes could face a growing threat from a fungal skin disease that has contributed to wild snake deaths in North America, according to an international collaborative study, led by conservation charity Zoological Society of London alongside partners including the U.S. Geological Survey. The new study is published in the journal Scientific Reports.