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: 758
Date published: March 15, 2016
Status: Completed

COMPLETED: Using thermal imagery to assess wolf hairloss from sarcoptic mange

Researchers at NOROCK and their partners used thermal cameras at the Grizzly and Wolf Discovery Center in Montana to assess the amount of heat lost under a range of environmental conditions with and without hair. These methods help scientists better understand how mange operates in wild wolves throughout the Greater...

Contacts: Paul Cross, Emily Almberg, Doug Smith, Adam Munn, Peter Hudson, John Heine, Dan Stahler, Shane Maloney
Date published: March 10, 2016

Translocation of imperiled fishes: Conservation introduction of threatened bull trout in Glacier National Park

There is an urgent need to consider more aggressive and direct interventions for conservation of freshwater fishes threatened by invasive species, habitat loss, and climate change. Conservation introduction - moving species to areas outside their previous range, where conditions are predicted to be more suitable - is one type of translocation strategy that fisheries managers can use to...

Date published: March 10, 2016
Status: Active

Contaminants Assessments in the Coral Reefs of the Virgin Islands National Park and Virgin Islands Coral Reef National Monument

Coral reefs around the world are exposed to a number of environmental contaminants. USGS researchers investigate the issue of contamination on the reefs around the U.S. Virgin Islands.

Date published: March 1, 2016

Prevalence Rates of Snake Fungal Disease and its Population-Level Impacts in a Snake Assemblage in Southwest Louisiana

In the last twenty years, an extraordinary number of fungal and fungal-like diseases have caused some of the most severe die-offs and extinctions ever observed in wild species.

Contacts: Hardin Waddle, Ph.D., Brad M Glorioso, Dr. Jeffrey M. Lorch
Date published: March 1, 2016

National Park Monitoring Project

We fund complex, often multi-year, research efforts on priority topics (themes) identified by the National Park Service (NPS) Inventory and Monitoring Program. Our efforts complement the Natural Resources Preservation Project (NRPP), which focuses on funding short-term, tactical research to meet natural resource management needs identified by NPS.

Attribution: Ecosystems
Date published: February 29, 2016

Communicate and Educate

We facilitate public understanding of science and environmental change to build support for science and proactive adaptation to environmental change.

Attribution: Ecosystems
Date published: February 29, 2016

Environmental DNA (eDNA)

Researchers sample water, soil or air to look for presence of Environmental DNA (eDNA), genetic material shed from living or once live organisms whose presence is difficult to detect under traditional sampling methods.

Attribution: Ecosystems
Date published: February 29, 2016

Adaptive Management

The Adaptive Management process offers a unique mix of management and science to "learn from doing" and decrease uncertainty over time.

Date published: February 29, 2016

Conservation Genetics

Researchers apply the tools and concepts of genetics to the conservation of biological resources.

Attribution: Ecosystems
Date published: February 29, 2016

Genetics

USGS uses cutting edge research and technologies to answer biological questions at a molecular level.

Date published: February 29, 2016

Epidemiology of Fish and Wildlife Diseases

Wildlife health experts apply the latest tools of molecular biology and genetics to address the ecology of infectious diseases affecting both fish and wildlife.

Attribution: Ecosystems
Date published: February 29, 2016

Imperiled Species

Our science is designed to understand the status of declining, Threatened, and Endangered species, and assist managers in their recovery.

Filter Total Items: 30,920
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Year Published: 2018

Sensitivity of mangrove range limits to climate variability

AimCorrelative distribution models have been used to identify potential climatic controls of mangrove range limits, but there is still uncertainty about the relative importance of these factors across different regions. To provide insights into the strength of climatic control of different mangrove range limits, we tested whether temporal...

Cavanaugh, Kyle C.; Osland, Michael J.; Bardou, Rémi; Hinojosa-Arango, Gustavo; López-Vivas, Juan M.; Parker, John D.; Rovai, Andre S.
Cavanaugh, K.C., Osland, M.J., Bardou, R.,Hinojosa-Arango, G., Lopez-Vivas, J.M., Parker, J.D., and Rovai, A.S., 2018, Sensitivity of mangrove range limits to climate variability: Global Ecology and Biogeography, v. 27, no. 8, p. 925-935, https://doi.org/10.1111/geb.12751.

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Year Published: 2018

Influences of the invasive tamarisk leaf beetle (Diorhabda carinulata) on avian diets along the Dolores River in Southwestern Colorado USA

The tamarisk leaf beetle (Diorhabda carinulata), introduced from Eurasia in 2001 as a biological control agent for the invasive plant Tamarix ramosissima, has spread widely throughout the western USA. With D. carinulata now very abundant, scientists and restoration managers have questioned what influence this introduced arthropod...

van Riper, Charles; Puckett, Sarah L.; Darrah, Abigail J.
van Riper III, C., Puckett, S.L., Darrah, A.J., 2018, Influences of the Tamarisk Leaf Beetle (Diorhabda carinulata) on bird diets along the Dolores River in Southwestern Colorado USA: Biological Invasions, online, https://doi.org/10.1007/s10530-018-1764-6.

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Year Published: 2018

A bioassay assessment of a zebra mussel (Dreissena polymorpha) eradication treatment

Zebra mussels (Dreissena polymorpha, Pallas, 1771) are an aquatic invasive species in theUnited States, and new infestations of zebra mussels can rapidly expand into dense colonies. Zebramussels were first reported in Marion Lake, Dakota County, Minnesota, in September 2017, andsurveys indicated the infestation was likely isolated near a public...

Barbour, Matthew T.; Wise, Jeremy K.; Luoma, James A.
Barbour, M.T., Wise, J.K., and Luoma, J.A. 2018, A bioassay assessment of a zebra mussel (Dreissena polymorpha) eradication treatment: U.S. Geological Survey Open-File Report 2018–1138, 11 p., https://doi.org/10.3133/ofr20181138.

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Year Published: 2018

Exclusion of small mammals and lagomorphs invasion interact with human-trampling to drive changes in topsoil microbial community structure and function in semiarid Chile

Species losses and additions can disrupt the relationship between resident species and the structure and functioning of ecosystems. Persistent human-trampling, on the other hand, can have similar effects through the disruption of biocrusts on surface soils of semiarid systems, affecting soil stability and fixation of carbon and nitrogen...

Alfaro, Fernando D.; Manzano, Marlene; Abades, Sebastian; Trefault, Nicole; de la Iglesia, Rodrigo; Gaxiola, Aurora; Marquet, Pablo A.; Gutierrez, Julio R.; Meserve, Peter L.; Kelt, Douglas A.; Belnap, Jayne; Armesto, Juan J.
Alfaro, F.D., Manzano, M., Abades, S., Trefault, N., de la Iglesia, R., Gaxiola, A., Marquet, P.A., Gutierrez, J.R., Meserve, P.L., Kelt, D.A., Belnap, J., and Armesto, J.J., 2018, Exclusion of small mammals and lagomorphs invasion interact with human-trampling to drive changes in topsoil microbial community structure and function in semiarid Chile: Soil Biology and Biochemistry, v. 124, p. 1-10, https://doi.org/10.1016/j.soilbio.2018.05.019.

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Year Published: 2018

Designing a protected area to safeguard imperiled species from urbanization

Reserve design is a process that can address ecological, social, and political factors to identify parcels of land needed to sustain wildlife populations and other natural resources. Acquisition of parcels for a large terrestrial reserve is difficult because it typically occurs over a long timeframe and thus invokes consideration of future...

Romañach, Stephanie; Stith, Bradley; Johnson, Fred A.

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Year Published: 2018

Hierarchical patch delineation in fragmented landscapes

PurposeWe developed a tool, FragPatch (FP), to delineate habitat patches for highly fragmented landscapes from a user-defined suitability map and two landscape perception values for a species of interest.MethodsWe wrote a Python script in ArcGIS to delineate habitat patch networks using the user inputs and ArcGIS tools such as Euclidean distance,...

Kilheffer, Chellby R.; Underwood, H. Brian
Kilheffer, C. and Underwood, H. B., 2018, Hierarchical patch delineation in fragmented landscapes: Landscape Ecology, v. 33, no. 9, p. 1533-1541. https://doi.org/10.1007/s10980-018-0679-z

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Year Published: 2018

Life history characteristics may be as important as climate projections for defining range shifts: An example for common tree species in the intermountain western US

AimPredictions of future suitable habitat for plant species with climate change are known to be affected by uncertainty associated with statistical approaches, climate models and occurrence records. However, life history characteristics related to dispersal and establishment processes as well as sensitivity to barriers created by land‐use may also...

Copeland, Stella M.; Bradford, John B.; Duniway, Michael C.; Butterfield, Bradley J.
Copeland, S.M., Bradford, J.B., Duniway, M.C., and Butterfield, B.J., 2018, Life history characteristics may be as important as climate projections for defining range shifts--An example for common tree species in the intermountain western US: Diversity and Distributions, online, https://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/abs/10.1111/ddi.12813.

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Year Published: 2018

STEPWAT2: An individual‐based model for exploring the impact of climate and disturbance on dryland plant communities

The combination of climate change and altered disturbance regimes is directly and indirectly affecting plant communities by mediating competitive interactions, resulting in shifts in species composition and abundance. Dryland plant communities, defined by low soil water availability and highly variable climatic regimes, are particularly vulnerable...

Palmquist, Kyle A.; Bradford, John B.; Martin, Trace E.; Schlaepfer, Daniel R.; Lauenroth, William K.
Palmquist, K.A., Bradford, J.B., Martyn, T.E., Schlaepfer, D.R., and Lauenroth, W.K., 2018, STEPWAT2--An individual-based model for exploring the impact of climate and disturbance on dryland plant communities: Ecosphere, v. 9, no. 8, https://doi.org/10.1002/ecs2.2394.

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Year Published: 2018

Increasing connectivity between metapopulation ecology and landscape ecology

Metapopulation ecology and landscape ecology aim to understand how spatial structure influences ecological processes, yet these disciplines address the problem using fundamentally different modeling approaches. Metapopulation models describe how the spatial distribution of patches affects colonization and extinction, but often do not account for...

Howell, Paige E.; Muths, Erin L.; Hossack, Blake; Sigafus, Brent; Chandler, Richard
Howell, P.E., Muths, E., Hossack, B.R., Sigafus, B.H. and Chandler, R.B., 2018. Increasing connectivity between metapopulation ecology and landscape ecology. Ecology, 99(5), pp.1119-1128.

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Year Published: 2018

Biocrusts: The living skin of the Earth

Biological soil crusts (biocrusts) form a “living skin” at the soil surface in many low productivity ecosystems around the world including water- and cold-limited environments, and early successional seres (Belnap et al. 2003). They may be composed of any configuration of soil surface-dwelling cyanobacteria, eukaryotic algae, lichens, mosses or...

Bowker, Matthew A.; Reed, Sasha C.; Maestre, Fernando T.; Eldridge, David J.
Bowker, M.A., Reed, S.C., Maestre, F.T., and Eldridge, D.J., 2018, Biocrusts--The living skin of the Earth: Plant and Soil, v. 429, no. 1-2, p. 1-7, http://dx.doi.org/10.1007/s11104-018-3735-1.

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Year Published: 2018

Beyond traditional ecological restoration on the Colorado Plateau

The Colorado Plateau is one of North America's five major deserts, encompassing 340,000 km2 of the western U.S., and offering many opportunities for restoration relevant to researchers and land managers in drylands around the globe. The Colorado Plateau is comprised of vast tracts of public land managed by local, state, and federal agencies...

Winkler, Daniel E.; Backer, Dana M.; Belnap, Jayne; Bradford, John B.; Butterfield, Bradley J.; Copeland, Stella M.; Duniway, Michael C.; Faist, Akasha M.; Fick, Stephen E.; Jensen, Scott L.; Kramer, Andrea T.; Mann, Rebecca; Massatti, Robert; McCormick, Molly L.; Munson, Seth M.; Olwell, Peggy; Parr, Steve D.; Pfennigwerth, Alix; Pilmanis, Adrienne M.; Richardson, Bryce A.; Samuel, Ella; See, Kathy; Young, Kristina E.; Reed, Sasha C.
Winkler, D.E., Backer, D.M., Belnap, J., Bradford, J.B., Butterfield, B.J., Copeland, S.M., Duniway, M.C., Faist, A.M., Fick, S.E., Jensen, S.L., Kramer, A.T., Mann, R., Massatti, R.T., McCormick, M.L., Munson, S.M., Olwell, P., Parr, S.D., Pfennigwerth, A.A., Pilmanis, A.M., Richardson, B.A., Samuel, E., See, K., Young, K.E., and Reed, S.C., 2018, Beyond traditional ecological restoration on the Colorado Plateau: Restoration Ecology, online, https://doi.org/10.1111/rec.12876.

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Year Published: 2018

Effects of urbanization, and habitat composition on site occupancy of two snake species using regional monitoring data from southern California

Detection data from a regional, reptile-monitoring program conducted by the U.S. Geological Survey were analyzed to understand the effects of urbanization and habitat composition on site occupancy of the coachwhip (Masticophis flagellum) and striped racer (M. lateralis) in coastal southern California. Likelihood-based occupancy models indicated...

Mitrovich, Milan J.; Diffendorfer, James E.; Brehme, Cheryl S.; Fisher, Robert N.
Milan J. Mitrovich, Jay E. Diffendorfer, Cheryl S. Brehme, Robert N. Fisher, Effects of urbanization, and habitat composition on site occupancy of two snake species using regional monitoring data from southern California, Global Ecology and Conservation, 2018, e00427, ISSN 2351-9894, https://doi.org/10.1016/j.gecco.2018.e00427.

Filter Total Items: 749
Duck with various brown colored feathers
February 10, 2008

Northern Pintail

The USGS conducts surveillance and research nationwide on wildlife diseases that could be harmful to domestic animals and humans.

Subalpine meadow near Deer Park campground, Washington
August 22, 2007

Subalpine meadow - Olympic Peninsula

Subalpine meadow near Deer Park campground on the Olympic Peninsula in Washington. The range of trees in subalpine areas may shift in elevation with climate change. Treeline elevation shifts may be difficult to predict in a changing climate because warming may aid in uptake and use – or assimilation – of carbon, increasing tree establishment, or may exacerbate drought

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Tamarisk stem cross-section cut 2.8 m below the ground surface showing how sediment deposition is dated using tree rings.
December 31, 2006

Tree ring dating

Tamarisk stem cross-section cut 2.8 m below the ground surface showing how sediment deposition is dated using tree rings.  Following initial burial of 68 cm in 1969, ring-width decreased, vessel size increased, and annual transitions became less distinct. After a second burial by 41 cm in 1972, annual transitions became indistinguishable.

Cattle behind a fence in a dry environment containing few plants and a lot of exposed soil.
December 31, 2006

Curious cattle on the Colorado Plateau

Cattle and grazing management are important to consider when thinking about ecosystem function in water-limited ecosystems. Management style can either promote or hinder productivity. Strategic distribution of water drinkers on the rangeland is a method that ranchers and land managers use to move cattle and reduce the threat of overgrazing. These cattle are keeping watch

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Lake Whitefish
November 4, 2006

Lake Whitefish

Lake Whitefish from our fall survey.

Image: Brewer's Sparrow Surveys
October 9, 2006

Brewer's Sparrow Surveys

Conducing Brewer's sparrow (Spizella breweri) surveys in sagebrush habitat, Owyhee Moutains, SW Idaho.

Image: Brewer's Sparrow Nest in Sagebrush
September 10, 2006

Brewer's Sparrow Nest in Sagebrush

Top view of Brewer's sparrow (Spizella breweri) nest in sagebrush (Artemisia tridentata), Owyhee Mountains, SW Idaho.

Image: Brewer's Sparrow Nest
June 15, 2006

Brewer's Sparrow Nest

Unhatched eggs in Brewer's sparrow (Spizella breweri) nest.

Sagebrush in central Idaho
June 15, 2006

Sagebrush in central Idaho

Sagebrush in central Idaho.