Mission Areas


The USGS Ecosystems Mission Area, the biological research arm of the Department of the Interior (DOI), provides science to help America achieve sustainable management and conservation of its biological resources. This work is done within the broader mission of the USGS to serve the Nation with science that advances understanding of our natural resources and inform land and water stewardship.

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Newsletter - EcoNews

Newsletter - EcoNews

This quarterly newsletter highlights ecosystems science and activities coming out of our Science Centers and Cooperative Research Units across the Nation. 

EcoNews Issues

Webinar - Friday's Findings

Webinar - Friday

A public webinar series meant to offer our audience an opportunity to discover the Ecosystems science capacity within the USGS.

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Where's our Science?


Find out where Ecosystems Science Centers, Field Stations, and Cooperative Research Units are located.

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Date published: September 18, 2020

Use of Robotic DNA Samplers That Can Rapidly Detect Invasive Aquatic Species

USGS researchers and their collaborators demonstrated the efficacy of using robotic environmental DNA samplers for bio surveillance in freshwater systems, showing that samples collected, processed, and preserved by robotic sampler detect organism DNA in the environment at rates comparable to those collected traditionally by human technicians.

Date published: September 11, 2020

Research Spotlight: Human Enterprise Brings More Ravens to the Great Basin, Threatening Greater Sage-Grouse

A new publication from the US Geological Survey Western Ecological Research Center (USGS WERC) and partners finds that ravens present a major risk to greater sage-grouse, a vulnerable species and prey for the ravens.

Date published: September 11, 2020

Emeritus & Distinguished Alumni Profile: Jan van Wagtendonk

Jan van Wagtendonk’s nearly 40-year career as a federal scientist has shaped fire and recreation management in the iconic Yosemite National Park.


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Year Published: 2020

Reliability of external characteristics to age Barrow’s goldeneye

Accurate assignment of age class is critical for understanding most demographic processes. For waterfowl, most techniques for determining age class require birds in hand, reducing utility for quickly and efficiently sampling a large portion of the population. As an alternative, we sought to establish an observation‐based methodology, achievable in...

Lewis, Tyler L.; Esler, Daniel N.; Hogan, Danica H.; Boyd, W Sean; Bowman, Timothy D.; Thompson, Jonathan

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Year Published: 2020

A new decision support tool for collaborative adaptive vegetation management in northern Great Plains national parks

National Park Service (NPS) units in the northern Great Plains (NGP) were established to preserve and interpret the history of America, protect and showcase unusual geology and paleontology, and provide a home for vanishing large wildlife. A unifying feature among these national parks, monuments, and historic sites is mixed-grass prairie, which...

Ashton, Isabel W.; Symstad, Amy; Baldwin, Heather; Post van der Burg, Max; Bekedam, Steven; Borgman, Erin; Haar, Milton; Hogan, Terri; Rockwood, Stephanie; Swanson, Daniel J; Thomson, Carmen; Wienk, Cody

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Year Published: 2020

U.S. Geological Survey sagebrush ecosystem research annual report for 2020

The sagebrush (Artemisia spp.) ecosystem extends across 251,473 square miles over portions of 13 western States. Affected by multiple stressors, including interactions among fire, invasive plants, and human land uses, this ecosystem has experienced significant loss, fragmentation, and degradation of landscapes once dominated by sagebrush. In turn...

Hanser, Steven E.; Wiechman, Lief A.
Hanser, S.E., and Wiechman, L.A., eds., 2020, U.S. Geological Survey sagebrush ecosystem research annual report for 2020: U.S. Geological Survey Circular 1470, 94 p., https://doi.org/10.3133/cir1470.