Mission Areas

Cooperative Research Units

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Established in 1935, our mission is our hallmark: meet the actionable science needs of our cooperators, provide technical assistance, and develop the future workforce through graduate education/mentoring. The Coop Units are located on 40 universities in 38 states. They are called Coop Units because each cooperator plays a role in the staffing, funding and directing the units. 

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Active Projects

 Active Projects

Active projects may be of local, regional, national, or international interest. The research programs conducted by units are approved as directed by the Coordinating Committee overseeing each Unit.

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2016 Year in Review

2016 Year in Review

In this 2016 Year in Review, you will find details on staffing, vacancies, research funding, and other pertinent information. You will also see snapshots of Unit projects with information on how results have been or are being applied by partners.

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Where's Our Science?

Where

USGS Cooperative Fish and Wildlife Research Units are located on 40 universities campuses in 38 states.

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News

Dr. Barry Grand, USGS Cooperative Research Unit Supervisor
September 27, 2017

USGS scientist James “Barry” Grand, Ph.D., has been named a 2016 U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service Recovery Champion (Region 7) for his exemplary long-term research on two formerly threatened species, the spectacled eider and Alaska-breeding Steller’s eiders.

Image: A Mule Deer Released After Being Radio-Collared
May 3, 2017

Migratory mule deer in Wyoming closely time their movements to track the spring green-up, providing evidence of an underappreciated foraging benefit of migration, according to a study by University of Wyoming and U.S. Geological Survey scientists at the Wyoming Cooperative Fish and Wildlife Research Unit.

Fairfax County Public Schools Secondary Transition to Employment student volunteers
December 22, 2016

"It’s a grand slam for all involved,” said Dawn Childs, USGS Cooperative Fish and Wildlife Research Units.  “Recent high school graduates with special needs get real-world experience while helping USGS scientists on projects ranging from grizzly bears and energy to historic documents and bird migration. And a school system gets to successfully train students to enter the workforce."

The Cooperative Fish and Wildlife Research Unit (CRU) Program had a productive year in 2016. Despite vacancies in our scientist ranks exceeding 20 percent, our research, training, and teaching portfolio was full and we graduated 93 students and published 398 manuscripts primarily focused on addressing the real conservation challenges of our cooperators. 

CRU Science
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USGS science for a changing world logo
Date Published: February 26, 2016

Researchers from the Louisiana Cooperative Research Unit evaluated habitat suitability at White Lake, Louisiana, for the possible reintroduction of endangered whooping cranes. The information collected led to the 2011-2012 release of 40 cranes. Researchers are continuing to monitor the reintroduced cranes and more releases are planned.

USGS science for a changing world logo
Date Published: February 26, 2016

The Oregon Cooperative Unit, graduate students, and a group of U.S. and international collaborators are conducting long-term research on the Adélie penguin on Ross Island, Antarctica. This species depends on sea ice (obligate) and in some regions of Antarctica is being affected by climate change’s influence on sea ice patterns.

Unit scientists develop programs and applications to be used by State and Federal managers to conduct data analyses to inform decision making. The Colorado Unit co-authored the textbook “Bayesian Models: A Statistical Primer for Ecologists.” The Arizona Unit developed a simple, web-based tool to compare freshwater fish data collected using American Fisheries Society standard methods.

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USGS researcher on a cobble beach adjacent to the Green River.
February 15, 2017

Standard Methods for Sampling North American Freshwater Fishes

The Arizona Cooperative Fish and Wildlife Research Unit developed a simple, web-based tool to compare freshwater fish data collected using American Fisheries Society standard methods. With widespread use, the tool could become an important resource for fisheries biologists. Check out the video by Scott Bonar, Unit Leader, Arizona Unit. 

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Brown bear (Ursus arctos) and Chum Salmon (Oncorhynchus keta)
February 15, 2017

In this Year in Review report, you will find details on staffing, vacancies, research funding, and other pertinent information. You will also see snapshots of Unit projects with information on how results have been or are being applied by cooperators. That is the essence of what we do: science that matter.

 

Mule deer
February 1, 2016

The Cooperative Research Unit mission is our hallmark: meeting the actionable science needs of our cooperators, providing them technical guidance and assistance in interpreting and applying new advances in science, and developing the future workforce through graduate education and mentoring. 

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Year Published: 2016

The North American model and captive cervid facilities—What is the threat?

The North American Model of Wildlife Conservation represents the key principles that in combination resulted in a distinct form of wildlife conservation in the United States and Canada. How and to what extent captive cervid facilities comport with or conflict with these principles has implications for wildlife conservation. Greatest threats appear...

Organ, John F.; Decker, Thomas A.; Lama, Tanya M.
Organ, J.F., T.A. Decker, and T.M. Lama. 2016. The North American model and captive cervid facilities - what is the threat? Wildlife Society Bulletin 40(1):10-13

Year Published: 2016

Cooperative Fish and Wildlife Research Units Program—2015 Year In Review

Summary The Cooperative Fish and Wildlife Research Unit (CRU) Program had its 80th anniversary in 2015. We did not have a party, but those of us who work directly for the Unit program on a daily basis celebrate the privilege we feel in being part of one of the greatest conservation institutions in history. Our mission is our hallmark: meeting the...

Organ, John F.; Thompson, John; Dennerline, Don E.; Childs, Dawn
Organ, J.F.; Thompson, J.D.; Dennerline, Don; and Childs, D.E., 2016, Cooperative Fish and Wildlife Research Units—2015 year in review: U.S. Geological Survey Circular 1420, 36 p., http://dx.doi.org/10.3133/circ1420.

Year Published: 2016

Reconstruction of late Holocene climate based on tree growth and mechanistic hierarchical models

Reconstruction of pre-instrumental, late Holocene climate is important for understanding how climate has changed in the past and how climate might change in the future. Statistical prediction of paleoclimate from tree ring widths is challenging because tree ring widths are a one-dimensional summary of annual growth that represents a multi-...

Tipton, John; Hooten, Mevin B.; Pederson, Neil; Tingley, Martin; Bishop, Daniel

Year Published: 2016

Population connectivity and genetic structure of burbot (Lota lota) populations in the Wind River Basin, Wyoming

Burbot (Lota lota) occur in the Wind River Basin in central Wyoming, USA, at the southwestern extreme of the species’ native range in North America. The most stable and successful of these populations occur in six glacially carved mountain lakes on three different tributary streams and one large main stem impoundment (Boysen Reservoir)...

Underwood, Zachary E.; Mandeville, Elizabeth G.; Walters, Annika W.

Year Published: 2016

Body size and condition influence migration timing of juvenile Arctic grayling

Freshwater fishes utilising seasonally available habitats within annual migratory circuits time movements out of such habitats with changing hydrology, although individual attributes of fish may also mediate the behavioural response to environmental conditions. We tagged juvenile Arctic grayling in a seasonally flowing stream on the Arctic Coastal...

Heim, Kurt C.; Wipfli, Mark S.; Whitman, Matthew S.; Seitz, Andrew C.

Year Published: 2016

Stable isotope evaluation of population- and individual-level diet variability in a large, oligotrophic lake with non-native lake trout

Non-native piscivores can alter food web dynamics; therefore, evaluating interspecific relationships is vital for conservation and management of ecosystems with introduced fishes. Priest Lake, Idaho, supports a number of introduced species, including lake troutSalvelinus namaycush, brook trout S. fontinalis and opossum shrimp ...

Ng, Elizabeth L.; Fredericks, Jim P.; Quist, Michael C.

Year Published: 2016

Governance principles for wildlife conservation in the 21st century

Wildlife conservation is losing ground in the U.S. for many reasons. The net effect is declines in species and habitat. To address this trend, the wildlife conservation institution (i.e., all customs, practices, organizations and agencies, policies, and laws with respect to wildlife) must adapt to contemporary social–ecological conditions....

Decker, Daniel J.; Smith, Christian; Forstchen, Ann; Hare, Darragh; Pomeranz, Emily; Doyle-Capitman, Catherine; Schuler, Krysten; Organ, John F.

Year Published: 2016

Innate and adaptive immune responses in migrating spring-run adult chinook salmon, Oncorhynchus tshawytscha

Adult Chinook salmon (Oncorhynchus tshawytscha) migrate from salt water to freshwater streams to spawn. Immune responses in migrating adult salmon are thought to diminish in the run up to spawning, though the exact mechanisms for diminished immune responses remain unknown. Here we examine both adaptive and innate immune responses as well as...

Dolan, Brian P.; Fisher, Kathleen M.; Colvin, Michael E.; Benda, Susan E.; Peterson, James T.; Kent, Michael L.; Schreck, Carl B.

Year Published: 2016

Extensive dispersal of Roanoke logperch (Percina rex) inferred from genetic marker data

The dispersal ecology of most stream fishes is poorly characterised, complicating conservation efforts for these species. We used microsatellite DNA marker data to characterise dispersal patterns and effective population size (Ne) for a population of Roanoke logperchPercina rex, an endangered darter (Percidae). Juveniles and candidate parents were...

Roberts, James H.; Angermeier, Paul; Hallerman, Eric M.

Year Published: 2016

An empirical assessment of which inland floods can be managed

Riverine flooding is a significant global issue. Although it is well documented that the influence of landscape structure on floods decreases as flood size increases, studies that define a threshold flood-return period, above which landscape features such as topography, land cover and impoundments can curtail floods, are lacking. Further, the...

Mogollón, Beatriz; Frimpong, Emmanuel A.; Hoegh, Andrew B.; Angermeier, Paul

Year Published: 2016

Mapping technological and biophysical capacities of watersheds to regulate floods

Flood regulation is a widely valued and studied service provided by watersheds. Flood regulation benefits people directly by decreasing the socio-economic costs of flooding and indirectly by its positive impacts on cultural (e.g., fishing) and provisioning (e.g., water supply) ecosystem services. Like other regulating ecosystem services (e.g.,...

Mogollón, Beatriz; Villamagna, Amy M.; Frimpong, Emmanuel A.; Angermeier, Paul

Year Published: 2016

The first description of oarfish Regalecus glesne (Regalecus russellii Cuvier 1816) ageing structures

Despite being a large, conspicuous teleost with a worldwide tropical and temperate distribution, the giant oarfish Regalecus spp. remain very rare fish species in terms of scientific sampling. Subsequently, very little biological information is known about Regalecus spp. and almost nothing has been concluded in the field of age and growth (Roberts,...

Midway, S.R.; Wagner, Tyler

Unit scientists routinely develop programs and applications to be used by State and Federal natural resource managers to conduct data analyses to inform decision making.

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Colorado State University Logo
May 2, 2016

A suite of software tools and models developed by Colorado State University and the USGS Colorado Cooperative Fish And Wildlife Research Unit.

University of Vermont Logo
May 2, 2016

Tools for automated acoustic monitoring of nature.

FITS Logo
May 2, 2016

Software from the American Fisheries Society

Oregon State University Logo
May 2, 2016

FW599: An introduction to data management and R for Fisheries and Wildlife applications--- a lighthearted look

InVEST logo
May 2, 2016

The InVEST tool allows researchers to evaluate relationships between land management actions and wild bee populations.

Under the guidelines of the Cooperative Research Agreement, CRU is required to communicate with funders, cooperators, stakeholders, and the public. CRU maintains outreach pathways and participation among state, federal, university, and private researchers.

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Alligator Hatchlings
2017 (approx.)

Crocodilians are one of the few reptile taxa that exhibit parental care. In alligators, following nest construction, females stay nearby in a guard hole, and are known to defend their nests against predators or other intruders. At the end of the 60-day incubation period, alligator hatchlings will vocalize from within the egg, to signal to the mother that they are ready to hatch. At hatch, female alligators will dig open the nest mound to help the hatchlings exit the nest. Alligator mothers will stay with their hatchlings for the next one to two years, protecting them from larger alligators or other predators. In South Carolina, alligator nests hatch in late summer, and hatchlings over-winter with their mother in a nearby den, and emerge in spring. Hatchlings do not grow very much over winter, so the hatchlings in these pictures are from the 2015 nesting season.

Brown bears (Ursus arctos) and Chum (Salmon Oncorhynchus)
2017 (approx.)

Bear predation on salmon can be high in many Alaskan rivers.  Brown bears Ursus arctos and Chum Salmon Oncorhynchus keta are managed concurrently in McNeil River State Game Sanctuary by Alaska Dept. of Fish and Game to benefit the salmon, bears, commercial fishers, and provide unparalleled close-up bear viewing and photography opportunities for the public. https://www.coopunits.org/Alaska/

Brown bears (Ursus arctos) and Chum Salmon (Oncorhynchus)
2017 (approx.)

Bear predation on salmon can be high in many Alaskan rivers.  Brown bears Ursus arctos and Chum Salmon Oncorhynchus keta are managed concurrently in McNeil River State Game Sanctuary by Alaska Dept. of Fish and Game to benefit the salmon, bears, commercial fishers, and provide unparalleled close-up bear viewing and photography opportunities for the public.

Brown bear (Ursus arctos) and Chum Salmon (Oncorhynchus keta)
2017 (approx.)

Bear predation on salmon can be high in many Alaskan rivers.  Brown bears Ursus arctos and Chum Salmon Oncorhynchus keta are managed concurrently in McNeil River State Game Sanctuary by Alaska Dept. of Fish and Game to benefit the salmon, bears, commercial fishers, and provide unparalleled close-up bear viewing and photography opportunities for the public.

Golden Eagle
2016 (approx.)

Reports of golden eagle mortality linked to wind energy facilities are cause for concern especially when coupled with the knowledge that golden eagles move great distances between breeding and wintering areas. Mortalities at a particular wind energy facility can consequently affect breeding populations of golden eagles at local and continent-wide scales. Information is needed to understand the distribution of breeding populations of eagles, the level of connectivity that exists among them and where individuals from these populations migrate to in the winter. Information from this study will improve the understanding of the movement ecology and landscape genetic structure of golden eagles in the western U.S.

Transmitters are programmed to acquire an alligator location once every three hours from April to the end of September each year
2016 (approx.)

Transmitters are programmed to acquire an alligator location once every three hours from April to the end of September each year.

Alligator Telemetry Research in South Carolina
2016 (approx.)

Researchers have deployed 24 external GPS transmitters to male alligators in South Carolina. Alligators are territorial -- an individual’s movements may be influenced by other alligators in close proximity.  Alligators are territorial -- an individual’s movements may be influenced by other alligators in close proximity.

American Alligator
2016 (approx.)

South Carolina alligators occupy a patchwork of diverse habitats, including rivers, lakes, wooded swamps, tidal marshes, and impounded freshwater wetlands. As a mobile, opportunistic predator, alligators seasonally adjust their habitat use for feeding. For example, some Florida alligators venture into brackish water habitats to feed on nutrient-rich blue crabs during the wet season because increased rainfall reduces salinity levels, making the water more tolerable to the gators.

Alligator movement ecology
2016 (approx.)

This movement ecology study evaluates home range, daily movement rate, and habitat use patterns of adult male alligators. 

Alligator transmitter installation and recovery
2016 (approx.)

Alligator transmitter installation and recovery. Pictured: Abby Lawson, Thomas Rainwater, John Lane (Wofford College), and Erin Weeks (South Carolina Department of Natural Resources).

American Alligator
2016 (approx.)

USGS and other scientists have studied in-depth alligator populations in Florida and Louisiana, but basic ecological knowledge is lacking for populations at the northern edge of their range. For example, differences in climate and habitat between the southern and northern portions of the range limit the applicability of findings from other studies to South Carolina alligator management.

South Carolina alligators occupy a patchwork of diverse habitats, including rivers, lakes, wooded swamps, tidal marshes, and impounded freshwater wetlands. As a mobile, opportunistic predator, alligators seasonally adjust their habitat use for feeding. For example, some Florida alligators venture into brackish water habitats to feed on nutrient-rich blue crabs during the wet season because increased rainfall reduces salinity levels, making the water more tolerable to the gators.

WorldCat holdings, OCLC, USGS Pubs Warehouse, Public Domain, Biodiversity Heritage Library
December 6, 2016

Student volunteers are trained to scan historic library materials. The materials can be complex, consisting of multiple parts.

The USGS provides 2-5 PhD level research scientists that sit on the graduate faculty at their host university; the host university provides office and lab space and administrative support; and the state natural resource agency(s) provide base operating funds to their unit. In addition the state and university cooperators have direct involvement in the staffing of and research conducted by the Unit

Upcoming Events
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Dr. Barry Grand, USGS Cooperative Research Unit Supervisor
September 27, 2017

USGS scientist James “Barry” Grand, Ph.D., has been named a 2016 U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service Recovery Champion (Region 7) for his exemplary long-term research on two formerly threatened species, the spectacled eider and Alaska-breeding Steller’s eiders.

Image: A Mule Deer Released After Being Radio-Collared
May 3, 2017

Migratory mule deer in Wyoming closely time their movements to track the spring green-up, providing evidence of an underappreciated foraging benefit of migration, according to a study by University of Wyoming and U.S. Geological Survey scientists at the Wyoming Cooperative Fish and Wildlife Research Unit.

Fairfax County Public Schools Secondary Transition to Employment student volunteers
December 22, 2016

"It’s a grand slam for all involved,” said Dawn Childs, USGS Cooperative Fish and Wildlife Research Units.  “Recent high school graduates with special needs get real-world experience while helping USGS scientists on projects ranging from grizzly bears and energy to historic documents and bird migration. And a school system gets to successfully train students to enter the workforce."

A strutting wild male turkey
November 17, 2016

A group of turkeys is referred to as either a rafter or a gang.  So this Thanksgiving, when celebrating with your own gang, remember the turkey as more than just the main course, but, as Benjamin Franklin said so many years ago, as a noble fowl of American tradition.

Unmanned Aerial Vehicle Ignites Controlled Fires
July 31, 2016

The USGS Nebraska Cooperative Fish and Wildlife Research Unit in partnership with the Nebraska Intelligent MoBile Unmanned Systems Lab (NIMBUS) and the Applied Complex Adaptive Systems Lab have designed a drone prototype that drops balls filled with combustible material that ignites fire as part of prescribed fire management.

American oystercatcher with chick.
March 16, 2016

The American oystercatchers studied on Cape Lookout National Seashore in North Carolina were disturbed more by pedestrians and off-road vehicles passing their nests than the U.S. military aircraft flying overhead.

USGS science for a changing world logo
December 10, 2015

CORVALLIS, Ore. – Northern spotted owl populations are declining in all parts of their range in the Pacific Northwest, according to research published in The Condor. Based on data from 11 study areas across Washington, Oregon and northern California, a rangewide decline of nearly 4 percent per year was estimated from 1985 to 2013.

Image: Carolina Northern Flying Squirrel
March 10, 2015

Habitat loss has fragmented the population of the Carolina northern flying squirrel, an endangered species now living on “sky-islands” on nine isolated mountain peaks in the southern Appalachians.

Image: Elk Traveling
March 2, 2015

LARAMIE, WY — Seeking insights to help moose, elk, mule deer and bighorn sheep populations, researchers from the University of Wyoming, the Wyoming Game and Fish Department, the U.S. Geological Survey and other partners will spend much of March capturing animals on their winter ranges in western and southern Wyoming.

Image: Pallid Sturgeon
January 23, 2015

BOZEMAN – Pallid sturgeon come from a genetic line that has lived on this planet for tens of millions of years; yet it has been decades since anyone has documented any of the enormous fish successfully producing young that survive to adulthood in the upper Missouri River basin.

Image: Transporting a Captured Mule Deer
December 8, 2014

Wyoming's struggling mule deer populations are receiving significant attention from University of Wyoming researchers, the Wyoming Game and Fish Department, the U.S. Geological Survey and others, with at least five studies underway that could assist efforts to enhance deer numbers and their habitats.

The cooperative nature of the CRU Program provides the workforce with a familiarity with the needs and policies of State and Federal science and management agencies. The success of this approach is evident in that CRU students have gone on to hold important leadership positions in nearly every State and Federal conservation agency.

CRU Partners
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