Mission Areas

Wildlife Program

Programs L2 Landing Page

We provide rigorous and unbiased information on migratory birds, terrestrial and marine mammals, amphibians and reptiles, terrestrial plants, threatened and endangered species, wildlife disease, and on wildlife issues resulting from human activities. Our science contributes toward a more complete understanding of the Nation’s ecosystems and landscapes.

An ARMI of Many

An ARMI of Many

The USGS Amphibian Research and Monitoring Initiative (ARMI) provides critical information about amphibian populations and life history traits, environmental characteristics, and potential causes of decline.

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Wildlife Health

Wildlife Health

The National Wildlife Health Center is an international leader in the timely and accurate diagnosis of wildlife illness and mortality critical to achieving effective disease control and prevention.

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Research Highlights

Our research is focused on the study of wildlife populations, their habitats, and the factors that influence their health.

Renewable Energy: Wind & Solar

Wildlife Disease

Pollinators

Whooping Cranes

Desert Tortoise

News

USGS scientist placing a tracking collar on a caribou.
December 19, 2016

Caribou, North America’s wild reindeer, have lives apart from their famous role on Christmas Eve. Reindeer and caribou are large, cold-adapted, herding herbivores related to deer, elk and moose.

To learn more about how these arctic antler-bearers spend the other 364 days of the year, we talked to USGS caribou expert Dr. Layne Adams, who has studied these animals for more than 30 years.

American mistletoe fruit and flowers
December 12, 2016

Perhaps some of you have already experienced a sweet smooch or two under the holiday mistletoe, enjoying this fairly old kissing ritual for people. While figuring prominently in ancient lore, mistletoe is important in other vital ways: it provides essential food, cover and nesting sites for an amazing number of critters. In fact, some animals couldn’t even survive without mistletoe.

Golden Eagle in flight
September 28, 2016

Roughly over a quarter of the golden eagles killed at the Altamont Pass Wind Resource Area in Northern California from 2012-2014 were recent immigrants to the local population, according to research led by the U.S. Geological Survey. 

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Staging HY ROSTs still need parental care
March 14, 2017

The Challenge: Terns in coastal areas of the Northeastern US likely will be impacted by construction and operation of offshore wind turbines. The “Cape Cod & Islands” (CCMA) area of Massachusetts is a particularly important area for the endangered Northwest Atlantic Roseate Tern (ROST) population as most ROSTs from throughout the breeding range (Nova Scotia to Long Island...

Field work sampling for disease
January 25, 2017

The Challenge: Disease in amphibian populations can have a range of effects, from devastating declines following introduction of a novel pathogen to recurring breakout events on a landscape. Elucidating mechanisms underlying the effects of diseases on amphibian populations is crucial to help managers make appropriate decisions to achieve management goals for amphibians.

Banding Hen Eider
December 20, 2016

The Challenge: Common eider numbers are declining throughout most of their range. The cause of this decline is not know, but poor recruitment, declining food resources, hunting, poor survival are possible causes. Research goals of this project focus on understanding the effects of hunting and predation on survival and recruitment rates of American common eiders (Somateria mollissima...

Radio telemetry is being used to determine how long local birds remain on breeding areas
December 20, 2016

The Challenge: Research goals of this project are to: determine survival rates of American woodcock (Scolopax minor) during fall migration; determine survival in relation to weather along the migration route; determine age and sex-specific timing of migration and passage of woodcock through the Mid-Atlantic States. Analyses are ongoing to determine timing of passage of birds across Cape May,...

American woodcock, Scolopax minor
December 20, 2016

The Challenge: Research goals of this project seek to take an adaptive approch to habitat management for American woodcock. Under this process a mix of early successional forest habitat will be created following the allowable guidelines of state forest management, National Wildlife Refuge management plans, and commercial timber management plans; management actions will...

American Woodcock, Scolopax minor, chick
December 20, 2016

The Challenge: Research goals of this project seek to determine if survey routes for American woodcock are sampling represenative habitats and whether routes are distributed proportionally to early successional habitats and biophysical regions across Maine, Vermont, and New Hampshire. If routes are not representatively distributed (i.e., biased), we will evaluate the ...

Black-and-white Warbler, Mniotilta varia
December 20, 2016

The Challenge: Research goals focus on measurement of direct effects of various habitat management techniques for game species on neotropical migratory birds. Analyses are ongoing to determine if avian species richness, diversity, and relative abundance of land birds has changed at Moosehorn National Wildlife Refuge as a result of habitat management; determine if the ...

Temporal dynamics of forest structure and coarse woody debris are being measured
December 20, 2016

The Challenge: Management of bottomland forests using wildlife forestry silviculture is being undertaken to achieve desired forest conditions for priority silvicolous wildlife, such as Louisiana black bear, migratory birds, and resident game species. Wildlife forestry management results in forests that have more open canopies and increased understory vegetation yet exhibit heterogeneous...

Scientists collecting bat location data
December 20, 2016

The Challenge: Within the Mississippi Alluvial Valley (MAV), forest managers may prescribe variable retention silvicultural treatments within bottomland hardwood forests on public lands to improve forest conditions (i.e., structural heterogeneity, species composition, and senescence) for priority wildlife species. This is referred to as wildlife-forestry silviculture. However, concerns have...

Citizen Scientists monitoring Avian populations in the Gulf Coast National Parks
December 20, 2016

The Challenge: Avian monitoring within the Gulf Coast Network of the National Park Service is challenged to provide valid quantitative data on bird populations within park boundaries with limited financial input. Thus, citizen science (volunteer) bird monitoring has been proposed to achieve reliable estimates of bird populations and to assess the effects of habitat change and temporal dynamics...

Whooping Crane, Grus americana, given the Eastern Equine Encephalitis vaccination
December 19, 2016

The Challenge: In eastern North America there is a viral disease called Eastern Equine Encephalitis, or EEE. This virus is transmitted among native bird species by the mosquito, Culiseta melanura, but does not cause disease in these passerine species. However, the virus is capable of causing severe disease or death in horses, some game bird species, humans and whooping...

Young Parent-reared Whooping Crane, Grus americana, being released
December 19, 2016

The Challenge: Whooping cranes have been successfully introduced using costume rearing techniques in either a direct autumn release or in an ultralight led migration from Wisconsin to Florida. In Florida, we have also released parent-reared whooping cranes. Not much is known about the learning that takes place in this K-selected species over the almost one year that...

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Wood Frog, Lithobates sylvatica
February 8, 2017

North American Amphibian Monitoring Program (NAAMP) anuran detection data from the eastern and central United States (1994-2015)

The North American Amphibian Monitoring Program (NAAMP) was a collaborative citizen science effort between the US Geological Survey (USGS) and 26 Partners (state agencies, universities, and nonprofits) for monitoring calling amphibian populations over much of the eastern and central United States.

Kittlitz's Murrelet
July 14, 2016

Identifying Kittlitz’s Murrelet nesting habitat in North America at the landscape scale

These data support the following publication (available online early): Jonathan J. Felis, Michelle L. Kissling, Robb S. A. Kaler, Leah A. Kenney, and Matthew J. Lawonn (2016) Identifying Kittlitz's Murrelet Nesting Habitat in North America at the Landscape Scale. Journal of Fish and Wildlife Management In-Press. doi:  http://dx.doi.org/10.3996/112015-JFWM-116.

Terrapin nest distrabution on the Chesapeake Bay
July 14, 2016

Diamondback Terrapins in Chesapeake Bay, 2002 Beach Survey

The survey was conducted in summer 2002 to assess the presence of terrapins in the Maryland portion of the Chesapeake Bay. Results are spatial locations of evidence related to nesting.

USGS science for a changing world logo
March 4, 2016

Amphibian Research and Monitoring Initiative (ARMI) Trend Data

The ARMI database provides occupancy and abundance estimates at the project level. Data can be accessed in tabular format or plotted directly via an interactive map browser. The trend data is updated annually and is useful for tracking the status of some of our nation’s amphibian populations.

USGS science for a changing world logo
March 4, 2016

SAGEMAP

A GIS Database for Sage-grouse and Shrubsteppe Management in the Intermountain West.

USGS science for a changing world logo
March 4, 2016

Raptor Information System (RIS)

Forest and Rangeland Ecosystem Science Center (FRESC, Corvallis) — The Raptor Information System (RIS) is a computerized literature retrieval system that focuses on raptor management, human impacts on raptors, the mitigation of adverse impacts, and basic raptor biology (with an emphasis on population dynamics and predation).

USGS science for a changing world logo
March 4, 2016

North American Breeding Bird Survey (BBS)

Breeding Bird Survey (BBS) is a project monitored by the USGS and the Canadian Wildlife Service on the status and trends of North American bird populations. The data can be used to estimate population trends and relative abundances at various scales.

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WERC Sooty Shearwater (Puffinus griseus) 2011-2012 Density map (birds/sq km) Summer - north
November 9, 2016

Sooty Shearwater (Puffinus griseus) Density map (birds/sq km) Summer - north as part of the Pacific Continental Shelf Environmental Assessment (PaCSEA) project. 
Project contacts: Josh Adams josh_adams@usgs.gov,  John Takekawa john_takekawa@usgs.gov, Jonathan Felis jfelis@usgs.gov
Partner partners: National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration and U.S. Bureau of Ocean Energy Management

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Seasonal response of ghrelin, growth hormone, and insulin-like growth factor I in the free-ranging Florida manatee (Trichechus manatus latirostris)
Year Published: 2016

Seasonal response of ghrelin, growth hormone, and insulin-like growth factor I in the free-ranging Florida manatee (Trichechus manatus latirostris)

Seasonal changes in light, temperature, and food availability stimulate a physiological response in an animal. Seasonal adaptations are well studied in Arctic, Sub-Arctic, and hibernating mammals; however, limited studies have been conducted in sub-tropical species. The Florida manatee (Trichechus manatus latirostris), a sub-tropical marine mammal...

Tighe, Rachel L; Bonde, Robert K.; Avery, Julie P.
Tighe, R.L., Bonde, R.K., and Avery, J.P., 2016, Seasonal response of ghrelin, growth hormone, and insulin-like growth factor I in the free-ranging Florida manatee (Trichechus manatus latirostris): Mammalian Biology, v. 81, no. 3, p. 247-254, http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/j.mambio.2016.02.006.
Characterization of the putatively introduced red alga Acrochaetium secundatum (Acrochaetiales, Rhodophyta) growing epizoically on the pelage of southern sea otters (Enhydra lutris nereis)
Year Published: 2016

Characterization of the putatively introduced red alga Acrochaetium secundatum (Acrochaetiales, Rhodophyta) growing epizoically on the pelage of southern sea otters (Enhydra lutris nereis)

Ecological associations between epibionts (organisms that live on the surface of another living organism) and vertebrates have been documented in both marine and terrestrial environments, and may be opportunistic, commensal, or symbiotic (Lewin et al. 1981, Holmes 1985, Allen et al. 1993, Bledsoe et al. 2006, Pfaller et al. 2008, Suutari et al...

Bentall, Gena B.; Rosen, Barry H.; Kunz, Jessica M.; Miller, Melissa A.; Saunders, Gary W.; LaRoche, Nicole L.
Bentall, G.B., Rosen, B.H., Kunz, J.M., Miller, M.A., Saunders, G.W., and LaRoche, N.L., 2015, Characterization of the putatively introduced red alga Acrochaetium secundatum (Acrochaetiales, Rhodophyta) growing epizoically on the pelage of southern sea otters (Enhydra lutris nereis): Marine Mammal Science, Early View, http://dx.doi.org/10.1111/mms.12275.
The effects of habitat, climate, and Barred Owls on long-term demography of Northern Spotted Owls
Year Published: 2016

The effects of habitat, climate, and Barred Owls on long-term demography of Northern Spotted Owls

Estimates of species' vital rates and an understanding of the factors affecting those parameters over time and space can provide crucial information for management and conservation. We used mark–recapture, reproductive output, and territory occupancy data collected during 1985–2013 to evaluate population processes of Northern Spotted Owls (Strix...

Dugger, Catherine; Forsman, Eric D.; Franklin, Alan B.; Davis, Raymond J.; White, Gary C.; Schwarz, Carl J.; Burnham, Kenneth P.; Nichols, James D.; Hines, James E.; Yackulic, Charles B.; Doherty, Paul F.; Bailey, Larissa; Clark, Darren A.; Ackers, Steven H.; Andrews, Lawrence S.; Augustine, Benjamin; Biswell, Brian L.; Blakesley, Jennifer; Carlson, Peter C.; Clement, Matthew J.; Diller, Lowell V.; Glenn, Elizabeth M.; Green, Adam; Gremel, Scott A.; Herter, Dale R.; Higley, J. Mark; Hobson, Jeremy; Horn, Rob B.; Huyvaert, Kathryn P.; McCafferty, Christopher; McDonald, Trent; McDonnell, Kevin; Olson, Gail S.; Reid, Janice A.; Rockweit, Jeremy; Ruiz, Viviana; Saenz, Jessica; Sovern, Stan G.
Postnatal growth rates covary weakly with embryonic development rates and do not explain adult mortality probability among songbirds on four continents
Year Published: 2016

Postnatal growth rates covary weakly with embryonic development rates and do not explain adult mortality probability among songbirds on four continents

Growth and development rates may result from genetic programming of intrinsic processes that yield correlated rates between life stages. These intrinsic rates are thought to affect adult mortality probability and longevity. However, if proximate extrinsic factors (e.g., temperature, food) influence development rates differently between stages and...

Martin, Thomas E.; Oteyza, Juan C.; Mitchell, Adam E.; Potticary, Ahva L.; Lloyd, P.
Optimizing surveillance for South American origin influenza A viruses along the United States Gulf Coast through genomic characterization of isolates from blue-winged teal (Anas discors)
Year Published: 2016

Optimizing surveillance for South American origin influenza A viruses along the United States Gulf Coast through genomic characterization of isolates from blue-winged teal (Anas discors)

Relative to research focused on intercontinental viral exchange between Eurasia and North America, less attention has been directed towards understanding the redistribution of influenza A viruses (IAVs) by wild birds between North America and South America. In this study, we genomically characterized 45 viruses isolated from blue-winged teal (Anas...

Ramey, Andy M.; Walther, Patrick; Link, Paul Karl; Poulson, Rebecca L.; Wilcox, Benjamin R.; Newsome, George M.; Spackman, Erica; Brown, J.; Stallknecht, David E.
Ramey, A. M., P. Walther, P. Link, R. L. Poulson, B. R. Wilcox, G. M. Newsome, E. Spackman, J. D. Brown, and D. E. Stallknecht. 2014. Optimizing surveillance for South American origin influenza A viruses along the United States Gulf Coast through genomic characterization of isolates from Blue-winged Teal (Anas discors). Transboundary and Emerging Diseases, doi:10.1111/tbed.12244
State-space modeling to support management of brucellosis in the Yellowstone bison population
Year Published: 2015

State-space modeling to support management of brucellosis in the Yellowstone bison population

The bison (Bison bison) of the Yellowstone ecosystem, USA, exemplify the difficulty of conserving large mammals that migrate across the boundaries of conservation areas. Bison are infected with brucellosis (Brucella abortus) and their seasonal movements can expose livestock to infection. Yellowstone National Park has embarked on a program of...

Hobbs, N. Thompson; Geremia, Chris; Treanor, John; Wallen, Rick; White, P.J.; Hooten, Mevin B.; Rhyan, Jack C.
Depth of artificial Burrowing Owl burrows affects thermal suitability and occupancy
Year Published: 2015

Depth of artificial Burrowing Owl burrows affects thermal suitability and occupancy

Many organizations have installed artificial burrows to help bolster local Burrowing Owl (Athene cunicularia) populations. However, occupancy probability and reproductive success in artificial burrows varies within and among burrow installations. We evaluated the possibility that depth below ground might explain differences in occupancy...

Nadeau, Christopher P.; Conway, Courtney J.; Rathbun, Nathan
Crocodylus acutus (American Crocodile). Long distance juvenile movement
Year Published: 2015

Crocodylus acutus (American Crocodile). Long distance juvenile movement

Crocodylus acutus (American Crocodile) is the most widely distributed New World crocodilian species with its range extending from Peru in the south to the southern tip of peninsular Florida in the north. Crocodylus acutus occupies primarily coastal brackish water habitat, however it also occurs in freshwater to hypersaline habitats (Thorbjarnarson...

Crespo, Rafael; Beauchamp, Jeffrey S.; Mazzotti, Frank; Cherkiss, Michael S.
Crespo, R., Beauchamp, J., Mazzotti, F., and Cherkiss, M.S., 2015, Crocodylus acutus (American Crocodile). Long distance juvenile movement: Herpetological Review, v. 46, no. 4, p. 623-624.
Sympatric cattle grazing and desert bighorn sheep foraging
Year Published: 2015

Sympatric cattle grazing and desert bighorn sheep foraging

Foraging behavior affects animal fitness and is largely dictated by the resources available to an animal. Understanding factors that affect forage resources is important for conservation and management of wildlife. Cattle sympatry is proposed to limit desert bighorn population performance, but few studies have quantified the effect of cattle...

Garrison, Kyle R.; Cain, James W.; Rominger, Eric M.; Goldstein, Elise J.
Estimating the short-term recovery potential of little brown bats in the eastern United States in the face of White-nose syndrome
Year Published: 2015

Estimating the short-term recovery potential of little brown bats in the eastern United States in the face of White-nose syndrome

White-nose syndrome (WNS) was first detected in North American bats in New York in 2006. Since that time WNS has spread throughout the northeastern United States, southeastern Canada, and southwest across Pennsylvania and as far west as Missouri. Suspect WNS cases have been identified in Minnesota and Iowa, and the causative agent of WNS (...

Russell, Robin; Thogmartin, Wayne E.; Erickson, Richard A.; Szymanski, Jennifer A.; Tinsley, Karl
Estimating the abundance of the Southern Hudson Bay polar bear subpopulation with aerial surveys
Year Published: 2015

Estimating the abundance of the Southern Hudson Bay polar bear subpopulation with aerial surveys

The Southern Hudson Bay (SH) polar bear subpopulation occurs at the southern extent of the species’ range. Although capture–recapture studies indicate abundance was likely unchanged between 1986 and 2005, declines in body condition and survival occurred during the period, possibly foreshadowing a future decrease in abundance. To obtain a current...

Obbard, Martyn E.; Stapleton, Seth P.; Middel, Kevin R.; Thibault, Isabelle; Brodeur, Vincent; Jutras, Charles
Obbard, M.E., S. Stapleton, K.R. Middel, I. Thibault, V. Brodeur and C. Jutras. 2015. Estimating the abundance of the Southern Hudson Bay polar bear subpopulation with aerial surveys. Polar Biology DOI 10.1007/s00300-015-1737-5
An experimental investigation of chemical communication in the polar bear
Year Published: 2015

An experimental investigation of chemical communication in the polar bear

The polar bear (Ursus maritimus), with its wide-ranging movements, solitary existence and seasonal reproduction, is expected to favor chemosignaling over other communication modalities. However, the topography of its Arctic sea ice habitat is generally lacking in stationary vertical substrates routinely used for targeted scent marking in other...

Owen, Megan A.; Swaisgood, Ronald R.; Slocomb, C.; Amstrup, Steven C.; Durner, George M.; Simac, Kristin; Pessier, Allan P.
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USGS logo
January 23, 2017

Estimates patch occupancy rates and related parameters.

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August 25, 2016

Tarantula hawk wasps sting and paralyze tarantulas to feed their young. USGS Ecologist Todd Esque captured this video of a tarantula hawk wasp dragging a tarantula through the desert in Mexico. 

August 23, 2016

Golden eagles can be killed by colliding with a number of human-made objects, including wind turbines. USGS research wildlife biologist Todd Katzner describes his studies of golden eagle flight. This research is being done to model flight behavior which might help managers understand how placement of wind turbines might pose significant risks to golden eagles.

 

NPS/USGS remote den camera. Fisher family denning in a mountain beaver burrow.
2016 (approx.)

NPS/USGS remote den camera. Fisher family denning in a mountain beaver burrow. Look carefully! Two fisher kits in front of their den site in a mountain beaver burrow (foreground) with mom (background left) watching on. The kits are about 4-5 months old.

A whooping crane mother and her two chicks in Louisiana, 2016
April 13, 2016

Female whooping crane L6-12 and chicks LW1-16 and LW2-16, April 13, 2016. These are the first wild-hatched whooper chicks in Louisiana since 1939. Their parents, a four-year-old female and a three-year-old male, were raised at USGS’ Patuxent Wildlife Research Center in Maryland, where researchers work to rebuild free-flying populations of the bugle-voiced, endangered birds

2016 (approx.)

This video describes USGS research utilizing remote thermal imaging cameras to study the extent and impact of mange on wolves in Yellowstone National Park.

February 23, 2016

Biologists use road-killed ungulates such as deer, elk, or bison as bait in the traps. 

February 23, 2016

Biologists use a syringe pole to immobilize the captured grizzly bear.  It takes approximately 10 minutes for a bear to become immobilized.  

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USGS scientist placing a tracking collar on a caribou.
December 19, 2016

Caribou, North America’s wild reindeer, have lives apart from their famous role on Christmas Eve. Reindeer and caribou are large, cold-adapted, herding herbivores related to deer, elk and moose.

To learn more about how these arctic antler-bearers spend the other 364 days of the year, we talked to USGS caribou expert Dr. Layne Adams, who has studied these animals for more than 30 years.

American mistletoe fruit and flowers
December 12, 2016

Perhaps some of you have already experienced a sweet smooch or two under the holiday mistletoe, enjoying this fairly old kissing ritual for people. While figuring prominently in ancient lore, mistletoe is important in other vital ways: it provides essential food, cover and nesting sites for an amazing number of critters. In fact, some animals couldn’t even survive without mistletoe.

Golden Eagle in flight
September 28, 2016

Roughly over a quarter of the golden eagles killed at the Altamont Pass Wind Resource Area in Northern California from 2012-2014 were recent immigrants to the local population, according to research led by the U.S. Geological Survey. 

A sea otter female and large pup, counted during the range-wide survey, feed on kelp crabs.
September 19, 2016

SANTA CRUZ, California — The southern sea otter, Enhydra lutris nereis, continues its climb toward recovery, according to the annual count released today by the U.S. Geological Survey and partners.

7730405760_c2d03b3c4e_o.jpg
May 23, 2016

New U.S. Geological Survey-led research suggests that even though amphibians are severely declining worldwide, there is no smoking gun – and thus no simple solution – to halting or reversing these declines.

USGS science for a changing world logo
November 19, 2015

Piping plovers, a federally threatened species of shorebirds, are likely losing wetland breeding habitat in the Great Plains as a result of wetland drainage, climate change or both, according to a new U.S. Geological Survey study.

USGS science for a changing world logo
November 17, 2015

The fungus Ophidiomyces ophiodiicola is the definitive cause of the skin infections in snakes known as snake fungal disease, or SFD, according to U.S. Geological Survey research published today in the journal mBio.

collage of scientists conducting science related to each mission are
September 8, 2015

BOISE, Idaho — The network of greater sage-grouse priority areas is a highly centralized system of conservation reserves. The largest priority areas likely can support sage-grouse populations within their boundaries, but smaller priority areas will need to rely on their neighbors in the surrounding network to sustain local populations, according to new research by the U.S. Geological Survey.

Image: A Golden Eagle Perches in a Tree
July 8, 2015

The U.S. Geological Survey, in collaboration with the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, has released a study that will enable ecologists, managers, policy makers, and industry to predict the bird fatalities at a wind facility prior to it being constructed.

collage of scientists conducting science related to each mission are
May 5, 2015

FORT COLLINS, Colo. — Low-quality nesting and winter seasonal habitats are strong predictors of reduced gene flow between greater sage-grouse breeding locations, according to research just published in Ecology and Evolution and authored by the U.S. Geological Survey and their colleagues at the University of Waterloo.

Image: Louisiana Black Bear and Cubs
November 19, 2014

The bear species nicknamed “teddy” more than a century ago that inspired the iconic stuffed toy still popular today will likely survive at least another century, according to a new U.S. Geological Survey study.