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.

Scientists with the Ecosystem Mission Area can be found working across the Nation to provide fish, wildlife, and habitat science support to natural resource managers. Our sixteen Ecosystem Science Centers provide unique scientific capabilities to support the management and conservation of our Nation’s biological resources.

  

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Filter Total Items: 633
Date published: May 24, 2018
Status: Active

Invasive Grasses, Vegetation, and Weeds

Invasive plants (e.g. leafy spurge, cheatgrass, brome, and buffelgrass) have dramatic impacts on Western landscapes through increased fire vulnerability, changes in ecosystem structure and diminished livestock grazing value. USGS researchers are working with DOI land managers, and federal and state partners to find solutions to this growing problem.

Contacts: Earl Campbell
Date published: May 23, 2018
Status: Active

Technology Development and Innovation

To provide the next generation of wildlife disease tools, that can move past detection and documentation and towards solutions for wildlife disease problems, the National Wildlife Health Center (NWHC) is developing a suite of new or adapted technology. Primarily, these technologies focus on three areas of improvement in the realm of wildlife disease: prediction and prevention, surveillance for...

Date published: May 23, 2018
Status: Active

Invasive Fish

Invasive fish cause significant economic losses and diminish opportunities for beneficial
uses of valued aquatic resources. Costly effects include harm to fisheries (e.g., Asian carp, snakeheads, whirling disease, and hemorrhagic septicemia). USGS research is focused on invasive fish spread and distribution, genetic and population impacts of invasives, hybridization between native and non...

Contacts: Earl Campbell
Date published: May 22, 2018
Status: Active

Databases, Models, and Decision Support Tools

Today's natural resource managers must make effective decisions about broad-scale ecosystem processes occurring across the landscape, with complex interactions, numerous competing stakeholder demands, and highly uncertain outcomes. USGS scientists are applying tools from decision science such as structured decision making, adaptive management, and modeling that examines the outcome of a...

Contacts: Earl Campbell
Date published: May 22, 2018
Status: Active

Rapid Response Teams

The USGS Brown Treesnake Rapid Response Team was established to help prevent the spread of invasive Brown Treesnakes through screening, risk assessment, outreach, and training for field response efforts.

Contacts: Earl Campbell
Date published: May 22, 2018
Status: Active

Strategic Planning

The USGS provides science for Department of the Interior bureaus and other decision makers with vital information that they need to fulfill their mission. The diversity of USGS scientific expertise enables the bureau to carry out large-scale, multi-disciplinary investigations and provide impartial scientific information to resource managers and planners. Scientific coordination and...

Contacts: Earl Campbell
Date published: May 21, 2018
Status: Active

Invasive Species Tools

Tracking the establishment and spread of existing and new invasive species is critical to effectively manage invasive species. In addition to standard means of monitoring, the USGS is developing new tools, particularly molecular techniques, to assist in the early detection of invasive species.

Contacts: Earl Campbell
Date published: May 21, 2018
Status: Active

Invasive Insects

Invasive species often pose the primary threat to biodiversity in the Pacific. USGS research focuses on the ecology, reducing impacts, and controlling highly invasive insect species. For example, USGS scientists are assessing novel mosquito control tools (e.g., bacterial endosymbiont Wolbachia). Mosquitoes carry diseases that affect people (e.g., West Nile virus, dengue); therefore, the...

Contacts: Earl Campbell
Date published: May 21, 2018
Status: Active

Invasive Mussels

Invasive zebra and quagga mussels (collectively called dreissenid mussels) are causing significant ecological and economic impacts and the range of these impacts continues to increase as they spread across North America. Dreissenids affect industrial and municipal infrastructure, recreational water users, and they severely alter aquatic ecosystems. USGS has been conducting dreissenid mussel...

Contacts: Earl Campbell
Date published: May 21, 2018
Status: Active

Invasive Mammals

Understanding life history and the environmental requirements, tolerances, and thresholds  of invasive species is critical to developing effective control and management options. The USGS conducts research on the biology of many species including Nutria and feral pigs to provide the information needed by management agencies.

 

Contacts: Earl Campbell
Date published: May 20, 2018
Status: Active

Invasive Reptiles

Invasive species have negatively impacted many ecosystems. Invasive reptiles are an increasing problem across the United States. Tracking the establishment and spread of existing and new invasive species is critical to effectively manage invasive species. USGS scientists are developing new tools, particularly molecular techniques, to assist in the early detection of, and rapid response to, ...

Contacts: Earl Campbell
Date published: May 18, 2018
Status: Active

Report Mortality Events and Submit Specimens

Find all required forms, instructions, and guidelines for submitting specimens to the USGS National Wildlife Health Center (NWHC).

Filter Total Items: 81
Date published: March 4, 2016

Nature’s Notebook: A national-scale, multi-taxa phenology observation program

Nature’s Notebook is an online phenological monitoring program that currently supports data collection, storage and use for almost 250 animal species (including fish, insects, reptiles, amphibians, birds and mammals) and 650 plant species (including trees, shrubs, forbs, grasses and cacti). Available to anyone from scientists to nature enthusiast.

Attribution: Ecosystems
Date published: March 4, 2016

Long Term Resource Monitoring

This web resource provides decision makers with the information needed to maintain the Upper Mississippi River System as a viable multiple-use large river ecosystem.

Date published: March 4, 2016

The Spring Indices (SI)

The Spring Indices are a suite of models developed to simulate the timing of the onset of spring in native and cultivated plants, as well as other physical and ecological processes, that are primarily sensitive to temperature. The SI can be calculated for any weather station that collects daily minimum and maximum temperatures.

Attribution: Ecosystems
Date published: March 4, 2016

The National Phenology Database

The database houses contemporary and historical data on organismal phenology across the nation. These data are being used in a number of applications for science, conservation and resource management. Customizable data downloads using specific dates, regions, species and phenophases, are freely available.

Date published: 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.

Date published: March 4, 2016

SAGEMAP

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

Date published: 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).

Date published: 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.

Date published: March 4, 2016

Across Trophic Level System Simulation for the Freshwater Wetlands of the Everglades and Big Cypress Swamp

Across Trophic Level System Simulation (ATLSS) is a project to develop a set of models for the Everglades and Big Cypress Swamp of South Florida. The models will support studies "to compare the future effects of alternative hydrologic scenarios on the biotic components of the system."

Attribution: Ecosystems
Date published: March 4, 2016

North American Bird Monitoring Projects Database - Other (Bird Studies Canada)

The North American Bird Monitoring Projects Database site is dedicated to bird monitoring in North America. It provides easy access to descriptions of all major bird monitoring projects in Canada, the United States, and Mexico.

Attribution: Ecosystems
Date published: March 4, 2016

North American Bird Phenology Program — BPP Data Viewer

The North American Bird Phenology Program was a network of volunteer observers who recorded information on first arrival dates, maximum abundance, and departure dates of migratory birds across North America. Active between 1880 and 1970, the program exists now as a historic collection of six million migration card observations.

Attribution: Ecosystems
Date published: March 4, 2016

Integrated Taxonomic Information System (ITIS)

Find the scientific names of species by their popular names or vice-versa.

Attribution: Ecosystems
Filter Total Items: 2,384
Year Published: 2018

Adaptive population divergence and directional gene flow across steep elevational gradients in a climate‐sensitive mammal

The American pika is a thermally sensitive, alpine lagomorph species. Recent climate-associated population extirpations and genetic signatures of reduced population sizes range-wide indicate the viability of this species is sensitive to climate change. To test for potential adaptive responses to climate stress, we sampled pikas along two...

Waterhouse, Matthew D.; Erb, Liesl P.; Beever, Erik; Russello, Michael A.
Waterhouse, M.D., L.P. Erb, E.A. Beever, and M.A. Russello. 2018. Adaptive population divergence and directional gene flow across steep elevational gradients in a climate-sensitive mammal. Molecular Ecology 27(11): 2512-2528.

Year Published: 2018

Effects of air temperature and discharge on Upper Mississippi River summer water temperatures

Recent interest in the potential effects of climate change has prompted studies of air temperature and precipitation associations with water temperatures in rivers and streams. We examined associations between summer surface water temperatures and both air temperature and discharge for 5 reaches of the Upper Mississippi River during 1994–2011....

Gray, Brian R.; Robertson, Dale M.; Rogala, James T.
Gray, B.R., Robertson, D.M., Rogala, J.T. 2018. Effects of air temperature and discharge on Upper Mississippi River summer water temperatures. River Research and Applications. 10 pgs. DOI: 10.1002/rra.3278.

Year Published: 2018

The use of lead isotope analysis to identify potential sources of lead toxicosis in a juvenile bald eagle (Haliaeetus leucocephalus) with ventricular foreign bodies

A male juvenile bald eagle (Haliaeetus leucocephalus) was admitted to the Wildlife Center of Virginia with a left humeral fracture a large quantity of anthropogenic debris in the ventriculus, a blood lead level of 0.616 ppm, and clinical signs consistent with chronic lead toxicosis. Because of the poor prognosis for recovery and release, the eagle...

Franzen-Klein, Dana; McRuer, David; Slabe, Vincent; Katzner, Todd
Franzen-Klein, D., McRuer, D., Slabe, V.A., Katzner, T.E., 2018, The use of lead isotope analysis to identify potential sources of lead toxicosis in a juvenile bald eagle (Haliaeetus leucocephalus) with ventricular foreign bodies: Journal of Avian Medicine and Surgery, v. 32, no. 1, p. 34-39, https://doi.org/10.1647/2016-184.

Year Published: 2018

Substrate and flow characteristics associated with White Sturgeon recruitment in the Columbia River Basin

A study was conducted to identify habitat characteristics associated with age 0+ White Sturgeon (Acipenser transmontanus Richardson, 1863) recruitment in three reaches of the Columbia River Basin: Skamania reach (consistent recruitment), John Day reach (intermittent/inconsistent recruitment), and Kootenai reach (no recruitment). Our modeling...

Hatten, James R.; Parsley, Michael; Barton, Gary; Batt, Thomas; Fosness, Ryan L.
Hatten, J.R., M.J. Parsley, G.J. Garton, T.R. Batt, and R.L. Fosness. 2018. Substrate and flow characteristics associated with White Sturgeon recruitment in the Columbia River. Heliyon 4(5): e00629.

Year Published: 2018

Use of created snags by cavity‐nesting birds across 25 years

Snags are important habitat features for many forest‐dwelling species, so reductions in the number of snags can lead to the loss of biodiversity in forest ecosystems. Intentional snag creation is often used in managed forests to mitigate the long‐term declines of naturally created snags, yet information regarding the use of snags by wildlife...

Barry, Amy M.; Hagar, Joan; Rivers, James W.
Barry, A.M., Hagar, J.C., Rivers, J.W., 2018, Use of created snags by cavity-nesting birds across 25 Years: Journal of Wildlife Management, p. online, https://doi.org/10.1002/jwmg.21489.

Year Published: 2018

Effects of experimental removal of Barred Owls on population demography of Northern Spotted Owls in Washington and Oregon—2017 progress report

Populations of Northern Spotted Owls (Strix occidentalis caurina; hereinafter referred to as Spotted Owl) are declining throughout this subspecies’ geographic range. Evidence indicates that competition with invading populations of Barred Owls (S. varia) has contributed significantly to those declines. A pilot study in California showed that...

Wiens, J. David; Dugger, Katie M.; Lesmeister, Damon B.; Dilione, Krista E.; Simon, David C.
Wiens, J.D., Dugger, K.M., Lesmeister, D.B., Dilione, K.E., and Simon, D.C., 2018, Effects of experimental removal of Barred Owls on population demography of Northern Spotted Owls in Washington and Oregon—2017 progress report: U.S. Geological Survey Open-File Report 2018–1086, 23 p., https://doi.org/10.3133/ofr20181086.

Year Published: 2018

MonitoringResources.org—Supporting coordinated and cost-effective natural resource monitoring across organizations

Natural resource managers who oversee the Nation’s resources require data to support informed decision-making at a variety of spatial and temporal scales that often cross typical jurisdictional boundaries such as states, agency regions, and watersheds. These data come from multiple agencies, programs, and sources, often with their own methods and...

Bayer, Jennifer M.; Scully, Rebecca A.; Weltzin, Jake F.
Bayer, J.M., Scully, R.A., and Weltzin, J.F., 2018, MonitoringResources.org—Supporting coordinated and cost-effective natural resource monitoring across organizations: U.S. Geological Survey Fact Sheet 2018–3015, 2 p., https://doi.org/10.3133/fs20183015.

Year Published: 2018

Examining speed versus selection in connectivity models using elk migration as an example

ContextLandscape resistance is vital to connectivity modeling and frequently derived from resource selection functions (RSFs). RSFs estimate relative probability of use and tend to focus on understanding habitat preferences during slow, routine animal movements (e.g., foraging). Dispersal and migration, however, can produce rarer, faster movements...

Brennan, Angela; Hanks, Ephraim M.; Merkle, Jerod A.; Cole, Eric K.; Dewey, Sarah R.; Courtemanch, Alyson B.; Cross, Paul C.
Brennan, A, EM Hanks, JA Merkle, EK Cole, SR Dewey, AB Courtemanch, and PC Cross. 2018. Examining speed versus selection in connectivity models using elk migration as an example. Landscape Ecology. 00:000-000

Year Published: 2018

Ecological genomics predicts climate vulnerability in an endangered southwestern songbird

Few regions have been more severely impacted by climate change in the USA than the Desert Southwest. Here, we use ecological genomics to assess the potential for adaptation to rising global temperatures in a widespread songbird, the willow flycatcher (Empidonax traillii), and find the endangered desert southwestern subspecies (E. t. extimus) most...

Ruegg, Kristin; Bay, Rachael A.; Anderson, Eric C.; Saracco, James F.; Harrigan, Ryan J.; Whitfield, Mary J.; Paxton, Eben H.; Smith, Thomas B.
Ruegg, K., R. A. Bay, E. C. Anderson, J. F. Saracco, R. J. Harrigan, M. Whitfield, E. H. Paxton, and T. B. Smith. 2018. Ecological genomics predicts climate vulnerability in an endangered southwestern songbird. Ecology Letters 21:1085–1096. Available: https://doi.org/10.1111/ele.12977

Year Published: 2018

Ecosystems science: Genes to landscapes

Bountiful fisheries, healthy and resilient wildlife, flourishing forests and vibrant grasslands are coveted resources that benefit all Americans. U.S. Geological Survey (USGS) science supports the conservation and management of the Nation’s fish and wildlife, and the landscapes they inhabit. Our biological resources—ecosystems and the wild things...

Attribution: Ecosystems
U.S. Geological Survey, 2018, Ecosystems science--Genes to landscapes: U.S. Geological Survey Fact Sheet 2018-3030, 4 p., https://doi.org/10.3133/fs20183030.

Year Published: 2018

Characterization of Plasmodium relictum, a cosmopolitan agent of avian malaria

BackgroundMicroscopic research has shown that Plasmodium relictum is the most common agent of avian malaria. Recent molecular studies confirmed this conclusion and identified several mtDNA lineages, suggesting the existence of significant intra-species genetic variation or cryptic speciation. Most identified lineages have a broad range...

Valkiunas, Gediminas; Ilgūnas, Mikas; Bukauskaitė, Dovilė; Fragner, Karin; Weissenböck, Herbert; Atkinson, Carter T.; Iezhova, Tatjana
Valkiūnas, G., M. Ilgūnas, D. Bukauskaitė, K. Fragner, H. Weissenböck, C. T. Atkinson, and T. A. Iezhova. 2018. Characterization of Plasmodium relictum, a cosmopolitan agent of avian malaria. Malaria Journal 17:184.

Year Published: 2018

Co‐occurrence dynamics of endangered Lower Keys marsh rabbits and free‐ranging domestic cats: Prey responses to an exotic predator removal program

The Lower Keys marsh rabbit (Sylvilagus palustris hefneri) is one of many endangered endemic species of the Florida Keys. The main threats are habitat loss and fragmentation from sea‐level rise, development, and habitat succession. Exotic predators such as free‐ranging domestic cats (Felis catus) pose an additional threat to these endangered small...

Cove, Michael V.; Gardner, Beth; Simons, Theodore R.; O'Connell, Allan F.

Filter Total Items: 621
Sea Lamprey Larvae on White Background
December 31, 2017

Sea Lamprey Larvae on White Background

This image shows a sea lamprey in its larvae phase.

Slower sea lamprey growth rates during the larval phase of development may increase the odds of sea lampreys becoming male, according to a USGS study. Sea lampreys are an invasive, parasitic species of fish damaging the Great Lakes.

...
Hibernating little brown bat
December 31, 2017

Hibernating little brown bat

little brown bat (Myotis lucifugus) with white-nose syndrome hibernating in a Virginia cave during late spring of 2016. Patches of the fungus that causes white-nose syndrome can be seen growing out of the skin (white areas) near the nose and across the folded wing skin of this bat.  Spherical drops of water condensation coat the bat's outer fur, a

...
Corallimorph infestation on coral reef
December 31, 2017

Corallimorph infestation on coral reef

Coral reefs are prone to phase shifts where they quickly transition from coral-dominated to a uniformity of other organisms, typically algae. The Palmyra Atoll National Wildlife Refuge in the Central Pacific is a unique case where a transition from corals to corallimorphs occurred. Corallimorphs are a type of invasive

...
Image from a remote camera placed in a golden eagle nest in the Mojave Desert.  The parent is feed the chick a snake.
December 31, 2017

Image from a remote camera placed in a golden eagle nest in the Mojave

Image from a remote camera placed in a golden eagle nest in the Mojave Desert.  The parent is feed the chick a snake.  

Sea Lamprey Larvae in Hand 2
December 31, 2017

Sea Lamprey Larvae in Hand 2

This image shows sea lampreys in their larvae phase.

Slower sea lamprey growth rates during the larval phase of development may increase the odds of sea lampreys becoming male, according to a USGS study. Sea lampreys are an invasive, parasitic species of fish damaging the Great Lakes.

...
November 30, 2017

2017 Nov. Pub. Lecture—Sea Otters: Confessions of a Keystone Carnivore

  • Sea otters are perhaps the best-known example of a "keystone predator".
  • Sea otter behavior -- in particular diet specialization and limited mobility -- can mediate their effects on ecosystem dynamics.
  • Other predators, especially large sea stars, can complement and reinforce the keystone role of sea otters: this became apparent with the loss of all
...
Attribution: Ecosystems
November 24, 2017

Serene Sirens: USGS Sea Cow Science

A USGS video about manatees reveals that while the animals may act like the cows of the sea, they also have more than a bit of the magical siren or mermaid about them.  Go for a serene swim.

Attribution: Ecosystems
A Cuban treefrog on a green leaf
November 13, 2017

Cuban treefrogs have leaped into Louisiana

Non-native Cuban treefrogs have established a breeding population in New Orleans, Louisiana, the first such population on the U.S. mainland outside Florida. The treefrogs were discovered at the Audubon Zoo shortly after a shipment of palm trees from Florida were planted in the zoo's elephant enclosure in 2016. USGS scientist Brad Glorioso confirmed the presence of a

...
Sonoran desert scene, complete with prickly pear, saguaro, and cholla cactus species.
October 31, 2017

Sonoran Desert Cactus Guild

The iconic Sonoran Desert is home to many species of cactus, vascular plants, and wildlife, including the giant saguaro, cholla, and prickley pear cacti seen here. Plants and animals have adapted to living in such a harsh dry environment. For example, the plants in this photo have grown up in the shade of one another, and survived due to protection from the hot sun. The

...
October 31, 2017

USGS Hammond Bay Biological Station Building Demo Time Lapse Video

Out with the old, in with the new! A state-of-the-art aquatic science laboratory is being built on the shores of Lake Huron at the USGS Hammond Bay Biological Station (HBBS), one of seven field stations of the USGS Great Lakes Science Center, operated in partnership with the Great Lakes Fishery Commission. To make way for the new laboratory, four old buildings on the HBBS

...
R/V Arcticus at Sturgeon Bay
September 21, 2017

R/V Arcticus at Sturgeon Bay

Fog surrounds the USGS Research Vessel Arcticus as it comes into port at Sturgeon Bay, Wisconsin.

Hoary marmots can be seen near large boulders in alpine meadows from Washington to Alaska.
September 13, 2017

Hoary marmots

Hoary marmots can be seen near large boulders in alpine meadows from Washington to Alaska. 

Filter Total Items: 320
Date published: June 1, 2017

Alabama Survey Finds First Southeastern Bat with White-Nose Syndrome

Biologists have confirmed white-nose syndrome in the southeastern bat, or Myotis austroriparius, for the first time. The species joins eight other hibernating bat species in North America that are afflicted with the deadly bat fungal disease.

Date published: May 31, 2017

USGS Finds 28 Types of Cyanobacteria in Florida Algal Bloom

A new U.S. Geological Survey study that looked at the extensive harmful algal bloom that plagued Florida last year found far more types of cyanobacteria present than previously known.

Date published: May 25, 2017

Mapping Chesapeake's Future From Today's Land Use

USGS’ pixel-by-pixel land use forecasts offer essential road maps for restoration. 

Date published: May 15, 2017

Western Fisheries Science News, April 2017 | Issue 5.4

Dr. Jim Winton Retires After Long Distinguished Career

Date published: May 10, 2017

Glaciers Rapidly Shrinking and Disappearing: 50 Years of Glacier Change in Montana

The warming climate has dramatically reduced the size of 39 glaciers in Montana since 1966, some by as much as 85 percent, according to data released by the U.S. Geological Survey and Portland State University.

Date published: May 3, 2017

Migrating mule deer track “green waves” of spring forage: study highlights importance of habitat corridors for migrating game and other species

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.

Date published: May 3, 2017

Wind Turbines Affect Behavior of Desert Tortoise Predators

How a wind energy facility is designed can influence the behavior of animal predators and their prey, according to a recent study published in The Journal of Wildlife Management by researchers at the University of California, Davis, and the U.S. Geological Survey.

Date published: May 2, 2017

Wildlife Recovery Following the Exxon Valdez Oil Spill was Highly Variable Across Species

Thanks to a quarter-century of research and monitoring, scientists now know how different wildlife species were injured by the 1989 Exxon Valdez oil spill and how long it took for populations to recover.

Date published: May 1, 2017

Avian Flu Testing of Wild Ducks Informs Biosecurity and Can Reduce Economic Loss

Ducks in North America can be carriers of avian influenza viruses similar to those found in a 2016 outbreak in Indiana that led to the losses of hundreds of thousands of chickens and turkeys, according to a recent study.

Date published: April 27, 2017

Billions More Milkweeds Needed to Restore Monarchs

As many as 1.8 billion additional stems of milkweed plants may be needed in North America to return imperiled monarch butterflies to a sustainable population size, according to a recently published U.S. Geological Survey study.

Date published: April 26, 2017

Asian Carp Would Have Adequate Food to Survive in Lake Michigan

If invasive bighead carp and silver carp spread into Lake Michigan, there would be enough food available for these particular species of Asian carp to survive, according to a new study by the U.S. Geological Survey.