Mission Areas

Ecosystems

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Filter Total Items: 594
Date published: March 14, 2018
Status: Active

Disease Resistance of Wildlife Species: how the immune system evolves and adapts

The Challenge: In an era when emerging infectious diseases are steadily increasing, human populations are exposed to virulent new pathogens.  Insight into the human system can be gained from understanding the variety of immune adaptations of wildlife species.  The vertebrate immune system is not static.  Rather, it involves in response to the environment.

Date published: March 14, 2018
Status: Active

Sustainably Designed Trails: Recent Recreation Ecology Findings on Design Factors Affecting Soil Loss

The Challenge: Achieving conservation objectives in protected natural areas requires the ability to sustain visitation while avoiding or minimizing adverse environmental impacts. Trails are an essential infrastructure component that limits resource impacts by concentrating use on hardened treads designed and maintained to sustain traffic. This is particularly challenging when visitation is...

Contacts: Jeff Marion, Ph.D., Dr. Jeremy Wimpey, Dr. Chris Carr, Dr. Yu-Fai Leung
Date published: March 14, 2018
Status: Active

Shoreline Changes and Impacts to Natural Resources in Chesapeake Bay

The Challenge: Climate change and sea level rise are expected to affect many miles of shoreline in the Chesapeake Bay and elsewhere along the Atlantic Coast in the coming years. In this scenario, federal and state agencies need to make more detailed assessments of how different watersheds and shoreline types might influence an array of ecosystem functions and components. Recently, most states...

Date published: March 13, 2018
Status: Active

A Vaccination Program to Protect Endangered Whooping Cranes from Encephalitis Virus

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 cranes. In the fall of...

Date published: March 13, 2018
Status: Active

Use of Structured Decision Making to Optimize Salt Marsh Management Decisions at Northeastern National Wildlife Refuges

The Challenge: The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (FWS) needs tools to inform decisions regarding the management and restoration of salt marsh ecosystems on northeastern National Wildlife Refuges. Previously, we developed a structured decision making (SDM) framework for optimizing refuge management decisions. This SDM framework served as the foundation for FWS to implement a consistent...

Date published: March 13, 2018
Status: Active

Avian Influenza Surveillance in Waterfowl in the Atlantic Flyway

The Challenge: In December of 2014, a novel strain of highly pathogenic avian influenza (HPAI) caused an outbreak in poultry on the West coast of the United States. From there, the virus progressed steadily eastward, causing $3.3 billion in economic losses in addition to 50 million chickens or turkeys dying or being depopulated. While the primary mode of spread appears to be via the poultry...

Date published: March 13, 2018
Status: Active

Research and Management of Informal (Visitor-Created) Trails in Protected Areas

The Challenge: The proliferation and degradation of visitor-created “informal” trails in protected areas can be a vexing management issue for land managers. Formal trail systems never provide access to all locations required by visitors seeking to engage in a variety of appropriate recreational activities. Traveling off-trail may be necessary to engage in activities such as nature study,...

Contacts: Jeff Marion, Ph.D., Dr. Jeremy Wimpey, Dr. Chris Carr, Dr. Yu-Fai Leung
Date published: March 12, 2018
Status: Active

Coastal Salt Marsh Management Along the Atlantic

The Challenge: A number of coastal states have been altering marshes for mosquito control since the early 1900s, but for the past four decades, changes have been made in the methods used to alter high-marsh environments. However, in most states, research and monitoring activities are still needed to inform the management methods employed. Although modern Open Marsh Water Management (OMWM)...

Date published: March 12, 2018
Status: Active

Pathogens in the Aquatic Environment – Waterfowl, Avian Influenza

The Challenge: Changes in aquatic ecosystems related to climate change phenomena or other anthropogenically based environmental stressors have significant impact on the dynamics of the host-pathogen-environment relationship, often with surprising results. Therefore, biosurveillance of the aquatic environment for pathogens of significance to aquatic and terrestrial wildlife, as well as to...

Date published: March 9, 2018
Status: Active

USGS Wild Bird Avian Influenza Program – Studies from Endemic Regions of Eurasia

The Challenge: Following outbreaks of highly pathogenic avian influenza (HPAI) in Eurasia, many researchers have attempted to determine how this virus spreads across the landscape. Unfortunately, prior to this work, most studies on HPAI movements were based on virology data alone, and no information on host ecology. Beginning in 2007, USGS Patuxent Wildlife Research Center (PWRC) and Western...

Date published: March 8, 2018
Status: Active

Tracking Domestic Ducks through the Market Chain in China via Telemetry

The Challenge: Highly pathogenic avian influenza viruses (HPAI) of certain subtypes primarily infect poultry, causing disease outbreaks and negative socio-economic impacts on poultry farming depending on the characteristics of biosecurity and the virus strain. HPAI viruses seem to be adapted to artificial ecosystems including poultry farming, free-ranging duck production, and live bird markets...

Date published: March 7, 2018
Status: Active

An Eco-immunological Study of Chesapeake Bay Waterfowl

The Challenge: The health of the abundant waterfowl species of Chesapeake Bay has become a major concern due to the spread of Avian Influenza (AI) across North America and the role of waterfowl as a vector of AI. For decades, the health of the Bay’s waterfowl has been affected by the degradation of water quality and food supply due to industrial contaminants,agricultural run-off, pollution...

Filter Total Items: 2,311
Year Published: 2017

Biological and ecological science for Nevada—The Silver State

Nevada is rich in minerals, energy, rangelands, mountains, deserts, lakes, fish, and wildlife. Many enterprises critical to Nevada's economy are based on natural resources including solar energy, livestock production, hunting, fishing, and other outdoor recreation. Nevada is a national leader in both geothermal and solar utility-scale energy...

Attribution: Ecosystems
U.S. Geological Survey, 2017, Biological and ecological science for Nevada—The Silver State: U.S. Geological Survey Fact Sheet 2017-3075, 2 p., https://doi.org/10.3133/fs20173075.

Year Published: 2017

Program MAMO: Models for avian management optimization-user guide

The following chapters describe the structure and code of MAMO, and walk the reader through running the different components of the program with sample data. This manual should be used alongside a computer running R, so that the reader can copy and paste code into R, observe the output, and follow along interactively. Taken together, chapters 2–4...

Guillaumet, Alban; Paxton, Eben H.
Guillaumet, A., and E. H. Paxton. 2017. Program MAMO: Models for avian management optimization-user guide. Hawai`i Cooperative Studies Unit Technical Report HCSU-TR077, University of Hawai'i at Hilo, Hilo, Hawai‘i. Available: http://hdl.handle.net/10790/3312.

Year Published: 2017

The Conservation Efforts Database: Improving our knowledge of landscape conservation actions

The Conservation Efforts Database (CED) is a secure, cloud-based tool that can be used to document and track conservation actions across landscapes. A recently released factsheet describes this tool ahead of the rollout of CED version 2.0. The CED was developed by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, the USGS, and the Great Northern Landscape...

Heller, Matthew M.; Welty, Justin; Wiechman , Lief A.

Year Published: 2017

Shifts in an invasive rodent community favoring black rats (Rattus rattus) following restoration of native forest

One potential, unintended ecological consequence accompanying forest restoration is a shift in invasive animal populations, potentially impacting conservation targets. Eighteen years after initial restoration (ungulate exclusion, invasive plant control, and out planting native species) at a 4 ha site on Maui, Hawai'i, we compared invasive rodent...

Shiels, Aaron B.; Medeiros, Arthur C.; von Allmen, Erica I.
Shiels, A. B., A. C. Medeiros, and E. I. von Allmen. 2017. Shifts in an invasive rodent community favoring Black rats (Rattus rattus) following restoration of native forest. Restoration Ecology 25:759–767. Available: http://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/10.1111/rec.12494/full

Year Published: 2017

Spatial and temporal patterns in golden eagle diets in the western United States, with implications for conservation planning

Detailed information on diets and predatory ecology of Golden Eagles (Aquila chrysaetos) is essential to prioritize prey species management and to develop landscape-specific conservation strategies, including mitigation of the effects of energy development across the western United States. We compiled published and unpublished data on Golden Eagle...

Bedrosian, Geoffrey; Watson, James W.; Steenhof, Karen; Kochert, Michael N.; Preston, Charles R.; Woodbridge, Brian; Williams, Gary E.; Keller, Kent R.; Crandall, Ross H.
Bedrosian, G., Watson, J.W., Steenhof, K., Kochert, M.N., Preston, C.R., Woodbridge, B., Williams, G.E., Keller, K.R., Crandall, R.H., 2017, Spatial and temporal patterns in golden eagle diets in the western United States, with implications for conservation planning: Journal of Raptor Research, v. 51, no. 3, p. 347-367, https://doi.org/10.3356/JRR-16-38.1.

Year Published: 2017

Skagit River coho salmon life history model—Users’ guide

Natural resource management is conducted in the context of multiple anthropogenic stressors and is further challenged owing to changing climate. Experiments to determine the effects of climate change on complex ecological systems are nearly impossible. However, using a simulation model to synthesize current understanding of key ecological...

Woodward, Andrea; Kirby, Grant; Morris, Scott
Woodward, Andrea, Kirby, Grant, and Morris, Scott, 2017, Skagit River coho salmon life history model—Users’ guide: U.S. Geological Survey Open-File Report 2017–1125, 57 p., https://doi.org/10.3133/ofr20171125.

Year Published: 2017

Refining the cheatgrass–fire cycle in the Great Basin: Precipitation timing and fine fuel composition predict wildfire trends

Larger, more frequent wildfires in arid and semi-arid ecosystems have been associated with invasion by non-native annual grasses, yet a complete understanding of fine fuel development and subsequent wildfire trends is lacking. We investigated the complex relationships among weather, fine fuels, and fire in the Great Basin, USA. We first modeled...

Pilliod, David S.; Welty, Justin; Arkle, Robert
Pilliod DS, Welty JL, Arkle RS. Refining the cheatgrass–fire cycle in the Great Basin: Precipitation timing and fine fuel composition predict wildfire trends. Ecol Evol. 2017;00:1–26. https://doi.org/10.1002/ece3.3414

Year Published: 2017

USGS microbiome research

Microbiomes are the communities of microorganisms (for example, bacteria, viruses, and fungi) that live on, in, and around people, plants, animals, soil, water, and the atmosphere. Microbiomes are active in the functioning of diverse ecosystems, for instance, by influencing water quality, nutrient acquisition 
and stress tolerance in plants, and...

Kellogg, Christina A.; Hopkins, M. Camille
Kellogg, C.A., and Hopkins, M.C., 2017, USGS microbiome research: U.S. Geological Survey Fact Sheet 2017–3074, 4 p., https://doi.org/10.3133/fs20173074.

Year Published: 2017

The influence of soil resources and plant traits on invasion and restoration in a subtropical woodland

It has been shown in some cases that nitrogen (N) addition to soil will increase abundance of plant invaders because many invaders have traits that promote rapid growth in response to high resource supply. Similarly, it has been suggested, and sometimes shown, that decreasing soil N via carbon (C) additions can facilitate native species recovery....

Yelenik, Stephanie G.; D'Antonio, Carla M.; August-Schmidt, Elizabeth
Yelenik, S. G., C. M. D’Antonio, and E. August-Schmidt. 2017. The influence of soil resources and plant traits on invasion and restoration in a subtropical woodland. Plant Ecology 218:1149–1161. Available: https://link.springer.com/article/10.1007/s11258-017-0757-3

Year Published: 2017

Biogeographical variation of plumage coloration in the sexually dichromatic Hawai‘i ‘Amakihi (Chlorodrepanis virens)

Plumage coloration in birds can be of major importance to mate selection, social signaling, or predator avoidance. Variations in plumage coloration related to sex, age class, or seasons have been widely studied, but the effect of other factors such as climate is less known. In this study, we examine how carotenoid-based plumage coloration and...

Gaudioso-Levita, Jacqueline M.; Hart, Patrick J.; Lapointe, Dennis; Veillet, Anne; Sebastian-Gonzalez, Esther
Gaudioso-Levita, J. M., P. J. Hart, D. A. LaPointe, A. C. Veillet, and E. Sebastián-González. 2017. Biogeographical variation of plumage coloration in the sexually dichromatic Hawai‘i ‘Amakihi (Chlorodrepanis virens). Journal of Ornithology 158:955–964.

Year Published: 2017

Coming to terms about describing Golden Eagle reproduction

Clearly defined terms are essential for reporting and understanding research findings, and inconsistent terminology can complicate efforts to compare findings from different studies. In this article, we reiterate and clarify recommended terms for describing Golden Eagle (Aquila chrysaetos) territory occupancy and reproduction. Several authors have...

Steenhof, Karen; Kochert, Michael N.; McIntyre, Carol L.; Brown, Jessi L.
Steenhof, K., Kochert, M.N., McIntyre, C.L., Brown, J.L., 2017, Coming to terms about describing golden eagle reproduction: Journal of Raptor Research, v. 51, no. 3, p. 378-390, https://doi.org/10.3356/JRR-16-46.1.

Year Published: 2017

Do you hear what I see? Vocalization relative to visual detection rates of Hawaiian hoary bats (Lasiurus cinereus semotus)

Bats vocalize during flight as part of the sensory modality called echolocation, but very little is known about whether flying bats consistently call. Occasional vocal silence during flight when bats approach prey or conspecifics has been documented for relatively few species and situations. Bats flying alone in clutter-free airspace are not known...

Gorresen, Paulo Marcos; Cryan, Paul; Montoya-Aiona, Kristina; Bonaccorso, Frank
Gorresen, P. M., P. M. Cryan, K. Montoya-Aiona, and F. J. Bonaccorso. 2017. Do you hear what I see? Vocalization relative to visual detection rates of Hawaiian hoary bats (Lasiurus cinereus semotus). Ecology and Evolution 7:6669–6679. Available: http://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/10.1002/ece3.3196/full

Filter Total Items: 545
Sampling for Bsal
December 31, 2016

Sampling for Bsal

Scientists sample a rough-skinned newt for the fungal pathogen Batrachochytrium salamandrivorans, or Bsal, at a pond near Portland, Oregon. Bsal is decimating wild salamander populations in Europe and could emerge in the U.S. through the captive amphibian trade.

Attribution: Ecosystems
American Alligator
December 31, 2016

American Alligator

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

...
American Alligator
December 31, 2016

Largest American Alligator Satellite Telemetry-Tracking Study

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

...
Dissected bat guano pellet showing antennae, eyes, and body fragments of midges.
December 31, 2016

Dissected bat guano pellet showing antennae, eyes, and body parts

Dissected guano pellet showing antennae, eyes, and body fragments of midges. 

December 31, 2016

Polar Bears Film Their Own Sea Ice World

This video showcases the latest polar bear point-of-view footage to date along with an interview of the research scientist who is responsible for the project. Released in conjunction with a new scientific study led by the USGS. 
 

Golden Eagle
December 31, 2016

Golden eagle fitted with Global Positioning System (GPS) backpack

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

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

A student volunteer scans historic USGS library material

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

Tufted Puffin, the species most affected by a recent seabird die-off in the Pribilof Islands, AK
November 23, 2016

Tufted Puffin, near Dutch Harbor in the Aleutian Islands, Alaska

Tufted Puffin, the species most affected by a recent seabird die-off in the Pribilof Islands, AK. Near Dutch Harbor in the Aleutian Islands, Alaska

November 17, 2016

2016 November Evening Public Lecture — Ecological Stressors

Ecological Stressors: It's a Lot of 'WERC'
"There's is no place like California" by A. Keith Miles, Center Director, USGS Western Ecological Research Center

Highlights of the science of the USGS Western Ecological Research Center: 

  • Wildlife, drought, sea level rise
  • Endangered species, species of concern
  • Alternate energy,
...
Invasive black and white tegu lizards (Salvator merianae).
October 26, 2016

Invasive black and white tegu lizards (Salvator merianae).

Invasive black and white tegu lizards (Salvator merianae). USGS is working on development of tools for the detection and capture of invasive reptiles in Florida.

October 10, 2016

Detecting Invasive Species in the Field: Portable eDNA Screening Tool

The USGS field tested the use of a portable hand-held kit for the detection of the environmental DNA (eDNA) of Asian carps (bighead carp and silver carp) in water samples as part of on-going invasive species detection research. The goals of the USGS-led research are to develop a method and kit that can be used on-site to detect Asian carp eDNA within one hour. Developing

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Filter Total Items: 332
Date published: March 16, 2017

New Study Supports the Rarity and Limited Range of a Kauai Endemic Bird

Approximately 500 Puaiohi exist in the wild, all on Kauai

Date published: March 15, 2017

Wild Birds an Unlikely Source of Costly Poultry Disease

Wild ducks and shorebirds do not appear to carry Newcastle disease viruses that sicken or kill poultry, according to a new study led by the U.S. Geological Survey.

Date published: March 13, 2017

Increase of Alaskan Snow Geese OK for Other Species

A new report by the USGS finds that although snow geese are increasing rapidly in northern Alaska, they are not having a negative effect on black brant. Brant are a goose species that shares its nesting habitat with snow geese.

Date published: March 7, 2017

Caribou Appear to Keep up with Warming Arctic

Despite recent changes to the growing season for plants in the Arctic, Alaska, caribou appear to have remained in sync with these changes over the last 30 years. 

Date published: March 2, 2017

Increasing Shrubs Mean Changes for Some but Not All Arctic Birds

Scientists can now predict which avian species are most sensitive to the increasingly dominant shrub habitat spreading across Alaska, a capability that will be useful for natural resource agencies in Alaska charged with managing these resources.

Date published: March 1, 2017

Western Fisheries Science News, February 2017 | Issue 5.2

In Memoriam — William Toshio Yasutake, 1922–2016

Date published: February 23, 2017

Just HOW EARLY is spring arriving in your neighborhood? Find out . . .

Get your flip-flops and shorts out because spring is arriving very early this year . . . at least 2-3 weeks early across almost the entire Southeast, from San Antonio to Atlanta to Washington, D.C.  This unusually early spring is likely to keep rolling north, bringing relatively early ‘signs of spring’ to portions of the central Midwest and northeastern states.

Date published: February 23, 2017

Just HOW EARLY is spring arriving in your neighborhood? Find out . . .

Get your flip-flops and shorts out because spring is arriving very early this year . . . at least 2-3 weeks early across almost the entire Southeast, from San Antonio to Atlanta to Washington, D.C.  This unusually early spring is likely to keep rolling north, already bringing surprising signs of spring to portions of the central Midwest and northeastern states.

Date published: February 14, 2017

Handbook for sagebrush steppe restoration techniques can help sustain wildlife and western ecosystems

The sagebrush ecosystem in the western U.S is one of the largest ecosystems in North America, but it is also threatened from wildfire and invasive plants. “Restoration of these unique ecosystems will help sustain wildlife and livelihoods throughout the West," said David Pyke, the USGS ecologist and lead author of the final installment of a three-part sagebrush restoration handbook. 

Date published: February 13, 2017

Western Fisheries Science News, January 2017 | Issue 5.1

Olfactory Cues Provide Insight into Lamprey Behavior and Physiology

Date published: February 8, 2017

Bigger May Not Be Better When It Comes to Mississippi River Diversions

New research shows how river diversions may change water quality in estuaries. 

Date published: February 2, 2017

A Century of Habitat Loss Affects Genetics of Endangered Bird

A new study analyzes the genetic diversity and population structure of the California Ridgway’s rail, Rallus obsoletus, a state and federally-listed endangered bird. The results demonstrate that the so-called “rails” are experiencing negative genetic effects following more than a century of salt marsh habitat loss from agriculture, commercial salt production and urban development.