Due to a lapse in appropriations, the majority of USGS websites may not be up to date and may not reflect current conditions. Websites displaying real-time data, such as Earthquake and Water and information needed for public health and safety will be updated with limited support. Additionally, USGS will not be able to respond to inquiries until appropriations are enacted.  For more information, please see www.doi.gov/shutdown

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: 715
Date published: April 17, 2009

Integrative Studies of Florida Spring Ecosystems

Florida's springs are a source of cultural, recreational, and ecological importance. But land-use changes and increased demands for groundwater due to the state's growing population have led to widespread impairment of these unique ecosystems. 

Date published: March 10, 2008

Conservation Research on North American Freshwater Faunas

The decline of freshwater animals has resulted in an increase in the number of imperiled species and extinctions. USGS scientists use genetics to determine if these species truly are gone forever.

Contacts: Noel Burkhead
Date published: October 14, 2003

Gulf sturgeon Fact Sheet

Gulf sturgeon Fact Sheet


Research in fish and wildlife health and disease, geomicrobiology, ecosystem function, climate change, water quality for drinking and in recreation, bioremediation, nanotechnology, energy and geographic patterns of microbial distribution.

Attribution: Ecosystems

National Phenology Network

Brings together citizen scientists, government agencies, non-profit groups, educators and students of all ages to monitor the impacts of climate change on plants and animals in the United States.

Attribution: Ecosystems

Science and Decisions Center

This center is an interdisciplinary organization advancing the use of science in natural resource decision making. The Center focuses on research and applications in three science areas: decision science (adaptive management and structured decision making), ecosystem services, and resilience/sustainability.

Attribution: Ecosystems


We help our scientists partner with governments, NGOs, universities, and individuals in other countries to conduct research that benefits the partner country and the United States. These partnerships can enhance the science and improve diplomatic relationships (science diplomacy), a less tangible but equally important benefit.

Attribution: Ecosystems
Filter Total Items: 2,932
Year Published: 2015

Soil organic matter regulates molybdenum storage and mobility in forests

The trace element molybdenum (Mo) is essential to a suite of nitrogen (N) cycling processes in ecosystems, but there is limited information on its distribution within soils and relationship to plant and bedrock pools. We examined soil, bedrock, and plant Mo variation across 24 forests spanning wide soil pH gradients on both basaltic and...

Marks, Jade A; Perakis, Steven; King, Elizabeth K.; Pett-Ridge, Julie
Marks, J.A., S.S. Perakis, E.K. King, and J. Pett-Ridge. Soil organic matter regulates molybdenum storage and mobility in forests. Biogeochemistry, DOI 10.1007/s10533-015-0121-4

Year Published: 2015

Rethinking the longitudinal stream temperature paradigm: region-wide comparison of thermal infrared imagery reveals unexpected complexity of river temperatures

Prevailing theory suggests that stream temperature warms asymptotically in a downstream direction, beginning at the temperature of the source in the headwaters and leveling off downstream as it converges to match meteorological conditions. However, there have been few empirical examples of longitudinal patterns of temperature in large rivers due...

Fullerton, Aimee H.; Torgersen, Christian E.; Lawler, Joshua J.; Faux, Russell N.; Steel, E. Ashley; Beechie, Timothy J.; Ebersole, Joseph L.; Leibowitz, Scott J.
Fullerton, AH, Torgersen, CE, Lawler, JJ, Faux, RN, Steel, EA, Beechie, TJ, Ebersole, JL, and Leibowitz, SG (2015), Rethinking the longitudinal stream temperature paradigm: region-wide comparison of thermal infrared imagery reveals unexpected complexity of river temperatures. Hydrological Processes, doi: 10.1002/hyp.10506.

Year Published: 2015

Effects of changing climate on aquatic habitat and connectivity for remnant populations of a wide-ranging frog species in an arid landscape

Amphibian species persisting in isolated streams and wetlands in desert environments can be susceptible to low connectivity, genetic isolation, and climate changes. We evaluated the past (1900–1930), recent (1981–2010), and future (2071–2100) climate suitability of the arid Great Basin (USA) for the Columbia spotted frog (Rana...

Pilliod, David S.; Arkle, Robert S.; Robertson, Jeanne M.; Murphy, Melanie; Funk, W. Chris
Pilliod, D. S., Arkle, R. S., Robertson, J. M., Murphy, M. A. and Funk, W. C. (2015), Effects of changing climate on aquatic habitat and connectivity for remnant populations of a wide-ranging frog species in an arid landscape. Ecology and Evolution. doi: 10.1002/ece3.1634

Year Published: 2015

Local variability mediates vulnerability of trout populations to land use and climate change

Land use and climate change occur simultaneously around the globe. Fully understanding their separate and combined effects requires a mechanistic understanding at the local scale where their effects are ultimately realized. Here we applied an individual-based model of fish population dynamics to evaluate the role of local stream variability in...

Penaluna, Brooke E.; Dunham, Jason B.; Railsback, Steve F.; Arismendi, Ivan; Johnson, Sherri L.; Bilby, Robert E; Safeeq, Mohammad; Skaugset, Arne E.
Penaluna BE, Dunham JB, Railsback SF, Arismendi I, Johnson SL, Bilby RE, et al. (2015) Local Variability Mediates Vulnerability of Trout Populations to Land Use and Climate Change. PLoS ONE 10(8): e0135334. doi:10.1371/journal.pone.0135334

Year Published: 2015

Evaluation of fisher (Pekania pennanti) restoration in Olympic National Park and the Olympic Recovery Area: 2014 annual progress report

With the translocation and release of 90 fishers (Pekania pennanti) from British Columbia to Olympic National Park during 2008–2010, the National Park Service and Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife accomplished the first phase of fisher restoration in Washington State. Beginning in 2013, we initiated a new research project to determine the...

Happe, Patricia J.; Jenkins, Kurt J.; Kay, Thomas J.; Pilgrim, Kristy L.; Schwartz, Michael K.; Lewis, Jeffrey C.; Aubry, Keith B.

Year Published: 2015

Key seabird areas in southern New England identified using a community occupancy model

Seabirds are of conservation concern, and as new potential risks to seabirds are arising, the need to provide unbiased estimates of species’ distributions is growing. We applied community occupancy models to detection/non-detection data collected from repeated aerial strip-transect surveys conducted in 2 large study plots off southern New...

O'Connell, Allan F.; Flanders, Nicholas P.; Gardner, Beth; Winiarski, Kristopher J.; Paton, Peter W. C.; Allison, Taber
Zipkin, E. F., Kinlan, B. P., Sussman, A., Rypkemae, D., Wimer, M., and O'Connell, A. F., 2015, Statistical guidelines for assessing marine avian hotspots and coldspots: A case study on wind energy development in the U.S. Atlantic Ocean: Biological Conservation, v. 191, p. 216-223.

Year Published: 2015

Projecting changes in subalpine tree populations with warming across an elevation gradient

Germino, Matthew J.; Kueppers, Lara; Conlisk, Erin; Castanha, Cristina; Moyes, Andrew; Smith, Jeremy; Veblen, Tom

Year Published: 2015

Survival, growth, and tag retention in age-0 Chinook Salmon implanted with 8-, 9-, and 12-mm PIT tags

The ability to represent a population of migratory juvenile fish with PIT tags becomes difficult when the minimum tagging size is larger than the average size at which fish begin to move downstream. Tags that are smaller (e.g., 8 and 9 mm) than the commonly used 12-mm PIT tags are currently available, but their effects on survival, growth, and tag...

Tiffan, Kenneth F.; Perry, Russell W.; Connor, William P.; Mullins, Frank L.; Rabe, Craig; Nelson, Doug D
Tiffan, K.F., R.W. Perry, W.P. Connor, F.L. Mullins, C.D. Rabe, and D.D. Nelson. 2015. Survival, growth, and tag retention in age-0 Chinook salmon implanted with 8-, 9-, and 12-mm PIT tags. N. Am. J. Fish. Manage. 35: 845-852.

Year Published: 2015

Multiscale analysis of river networks using the R package linbin

Analytical tools are needed in riverine science and management to bridge the gap between GIS and statistical packages that were not designed for the directional and dendritic structure of streams. We introduce linbin, an R package developed for the analysis of riverscapes at multiple scales. With this software, riverine data on aquatic habitat and...

Welty, Ethan Z.; Torgersen, Christian E.; Brenkman, Samuel J.; Duda, Jeffrey J.; Armstrong, Jonathan B.

Year Published: 2015

Assessing juvenile salmon rearing habitat and associated predation risk in a lower Snake River reservoir

Subyearling fall Chinook salmon (Oncorhynchus tshawytscha) in the Columbia River basin exhibit a transient rearing strategy and depend on connected shoreline habitats during freshwater rearing. Impoundment has greatly reduced the amount of shallow-water rearing habitat that is exacerbated by the steep topography of reservoirs. Periodic...

Tiffan, Kenneth F.; Hatten, James R.; Trachtenbarg, David A
Tiffan, K.F., J.R. Hatten, and D.A. Trachtenbarg. 2015. Assessing juvenile salmon rearing habitat and associated predation risk in a lower Snake River reservoir. River Res. Appl.

Year Published: 2015

Effects of land use on greenhouse gas fluxes and soil properties of wetland catchments in the Prairie Pothole Region of North America

Wetland restoration has been suggested as policy goal with multiple environmental benefits including enhancement of atmospheric carbon sequestration. However, there are concerns that increased methane (CH4) emissions associated with restoration may outweigh potential benefits. A comprehensive, 4-year study of 119 wetland catchments was conducted...

Tangen, Brian A.; Finocchiaro, Raymond G.; Gleason, Robert A.
Tangen, B. A., R. G. Finocchiaro, and R. A. Gleason. 2015. Effects of land use on greenhouse gas fluxes and soil properties of wetland catchments in the Prairie Pothole Region of North America. Science of the Total Environment, 533:391–409, doi:10.1016/j.scitotenv.2015.06.148.

Year Published: 2015

Increasing elevation of fire in the Sierra Nevada and implications for forest change

Fire in high-elevation forest ecosystems can have severe impacts on forest structure, function and biodiversity. Using a 105-year data set, we found increasing elevation extent of fires in the Sierra Nevada, and pose five hypotheses to explain this pattern. Beyond the recognized pattern of increasing fire frequency in the Sierra Nevada since the...

Schwartz, Mark W.; Butt, Nathalie; Dolanc, Christopher R.; Holguin, Andrew; Moritz, Max A.; North, Malcolm P.; Safford, Hugh D.; Stephenson, Nathan L.; Thorne, James H.; van Mantgem, Phillip J.
Schwartz MW, N Butt, CR Dolanc, A Holguin, MA Moritz, MP North, HD Safford, NL Stephenson, JH Thorne, PJ van Mantgem. 2015. Increasing elevation of fire in the Sierra Nevada and implications for forest change. Ecosphere 6(7):121. http://dx.doi.org/10.1890/ES15-00003.1