Mission Areas


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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.


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Filter Total Items: 642
Date published: July 10, 2018
Status: Active

Habitat and Landscape Alteration

USGS research on wildlife behavior, abundance, and sources of mortality are improving our understanding of the specific effects of renewable energy on wildlife and habitats. This knowledge is guiding the development of effective strategies to minimize the impact of renewable energy development on wildlife.  USGS is improving and developing software models and statistical tools that can be used...

Contacts: Mona Khalil
Date published: July 10, 2018
Status: Active

Pollinators and Biofuels

USGS scientists are studying how biofuel crops may be affecting pollinators, especially in the Northern Great Plains. Changes in land use from bee-friendly crops to biofuel crops likely impact pollinators.

Date published: July 10, 2018
Status: Active

Biofuels: Agave

USGS is collaborating with the USDA Aridland Agricultural Research Center and the University of Ohio regarding the potential for Agave biofuel production to add to our national bioenergy portfolio in marginal lands. Agave may represent a highly efficient biofuel, even under non-irrigation conditions, but the ecosystem consequences of this development on drylands (including habitat and wildlife...

Date published: June 28, 2018
Status: Active


Accurate and timely scientific information is critical to ensure appropriate management response to wildfires and effective investments in stabilization, rehabilitation, and restoration of landscapes immediately after wildfires occur. Currently, fire management organizations lack adequate scientific information to prioritize burned regions for suppression and restoration activities.


Date published: June 28, 2018
Status: Active


Grazing can have different impacts on an ecosystem including as a fire suppresant. USGS scientists are examining the effects of grazing in different environments to provide land resource managers with data they can use when determining grazing plans and actions.

Date published: June 28, 2018
Status: Active


Hurricanes are large-scale disturbances of such force and size that their influence on landscape pattern and processes of coastal systems is evident, though still poorly understood. The regularity and severity of tropical storms are major factors controlling ecosystem structure and succession for coastal ecosystems. Hurricane landfall rates vary greatly for given coastal stretches of the...

Date published: June 28, 2018
Status: Active


USGS scientists develop techniques for restoration and rehabilitation, provide tools that can be used to restore impaired ecosystems into healthy, resilient landscapes and watersheds that sustain plants and animals, and identify adaptation strategies for managers to plan and implement for ecosystem adaptation to natural and human-caused drivers of ecosystem change.

Date published: June 28, 2018
Status: Active

Ecosystem Impacts

USGS science helps Interior land managers predict wildfire risk and behavior by understanding fuel loads and treatments, assess the risk for landslides, air and water quality impacts post-fire, and determine the most cost-effective and/or least impactful land and water management and restoration alternatives.

Date published: June 28, 2018
Status: Active


Protecting endangered species while managing economically important species is an ongoing natural
resource management challenge. USGS research will provide managers the information they need to manage endangered native species and economically important nonnative species using economically efficient approaches. The USGS biological/economic framework is also applicable to different natural...

Date published: June 28, 2018
Status: Active


The sagebrush ecosystem extends across 11 Western States and two Canadian Provinces and over 60 percent of that landscape is on public lands, half of which are managed by the Interior. This area is dominated by sagebrush, which is priority habitat for over 350 wildlife species, most notably the greater sage grouse. Alterations in the sagebrush ecosystem including changing fire regimes, spread...

Date published: June 27, 2018
Status: Active


The USGS Greater Everglades Priority Ecosystems Program provides science to support management and restoration of America’s Everglades. This program supports multi-year monitoring, modeling, and research  projects that span the entire range of scientific disciplines. A recent emphasis has been on climate change effects. Research topics include biogeochemistry, invasive species detection and...

Date published: June 27, 2018
Status: Active

San Francisco Bay

USGS scientists have made great strides in refining and extending the capabilities of the Computational Assessments of Scenarios of Change for the Delta Ecosystem (CASCaDE II model systems); a collaboration among the USGS and several academic and international organizations. This paved the way for more reliable and objective evaluations of the ecosystem consequences of management actions and...

Filter Total Items: 98
Date published: March 2, 2018

Field Manual of Wildlife Diseases

Access field manual resources from the National Wildlife Health Center.

Date published: March 1, 2018

Quarterly Mortality Reports

National Wildlife Health Center produces quarterly mortality reports, containing information about wildlife mortality events throughout the United States and on occasion across North America.

Date published: March 1, 2018

NPN Visualization Tool

Phenology map viewer from the National Phenology Network.

Date published: March 1, 2018

Humpback Chub and Rainbow Trout Joint Mark-Recapture Data and Model, Colorado River, Arizona-Data & Model

These data were compiled for a joint mark-recapture analysis of humpback chub and rainbow trout and include capture histories for both species, and environmental covariates associated with monthly time steps used to measure survival and growth, and environmental covariates used to predict capture probability during each sampling trip.

Date published: February 12, 2018

Shoreline change rates in salt marsh units in Edwin B. Forsythe National Wildlife Refuge, New Jersey

This dataset displays shoreline change rates at the Edwin B. Forsythe National Wildlife Refuge (EBFNWR), which spans over Great Bay, Little Egg Harbor, and Barnegat Bay in New Jersey, USA

Date published: February 1, 2018

NWHC Reports to AFWA and WAFWA

Access NWHC reports to the Association of Fish and Wildlife Agencies and the Western Association of Fish and Wildlife Agencies.

Date published: January 18, 2018

Long-term Experimental Forest Growth and Drought Data

Forests around the world are experiencing severe droughts and elevated competitive intensity due to increased tree density. These data were compiled to represent multi-decadal forest growth across eight different experimental forests in the United States, each with replicated levels of density treatments, as well as an important drought index correlated to growth.

Date published: January 15, 2018

Medical Wallet Card for Wildlife Professionals

Biologists working with wildlife may be exposed to a variety of disease agents. NWHC has developed a wallet card that wildlife professionals can carry with them to alert medical personnel about potential exposure to zoonotic diseases. Contact information is provided for the Centers for Disease Control for the occurrence of zoonotic diseases in humans.

Date published: January 1, 2018

List of Species Affected by H5N1 (Avian Influenza)

List of species affected by H5N1 avian influenza (excel file).

Date published: December 11, 2017

Gulf of Mexico Dashboard

The USGS Southeast Regional Office has funded a cross-center collaboration between the Wetland and Aquatic Research Center and the Texas Water Science Center for the development of the Gulf of Mexico Water Dashboard. 

Date published: December 7, 2017

A Baseline Assessment of Contaminant Concentrations in Sediment and Biota in Proximity to Coal Transport Tracks in the Pacific Northwest (2014)

This dataset provides baseline concentrations of polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbon (PAH), other aromatic organic compounds, mercury (Hg), and trace metal concentrations in sediment and biota collected from two sites along an existing rail line used for coal transport in the Columbia River Gorge, Washington.

Date published: November 27, 2017

Ground-dwelling arthropod composition, Colorado River, Grand Canyon, 2009—Data

These data were compiled from pitfall traps deployed at three sites, along a 25 kilometers (km) stretch of the Colorado River, immediately downstream of Glen Canyon Dam, in Glen Canyon National Recreation Area. Each site had both pre and post-dam riparian habitats present. The purpose of the sampling was to determine if arthropod abundance, diversity and feeding guilds differed between...

Filter Total Items: 2,896
Year Published: 2018

Responses of hatchery‐ and natural‐origin adult spring Chinook Salmon to a trap‐and‐haul reintroduction program

The construction of impassable dams severely affected many Pacific salmon Oncorhynchus spp. populations, resulting in reintroduction efforts that are now focused on returning anadromous fish to areas located upstream of these dams. A primary strategy for moving adult salmon and steelhead O. mykiss around a dam or multiple dams...

Kock, Tobias J.; Perry, Russell W.; Pope, Adam C.; Serl, John D.; Kohn, Mike; Liedtke, Theresa L.
Kock, T.J., R.W. Perry, A.C. Pope, J.D. Serl, M. Kohn, and T.L. Liedtke. 2018. Responses of hatchery‐ and natural‐origin adult spring Chinook salmon to a trap‐and‐haul reintroduction program. N. Am. J. Fish. Manage. (Early View).

Year Published: 2018

Evaluating the waterfowl breeding population and habitat survey for scaup

Potential bias in breeding population estimates of certain duck species from the Waterfowl Breeding Population and Habitat Survey (WBPHS) has been a concern for decades. The WBPHS does not differentiate between lesser (Aythya affinis) and greater (A. marila) scaup, but lesser scaup comprise 89% of the combined scaup population and their...

Schummer, Michael L.; Afton, Alan D.; Badzinski, Shannon S.; Petrie, Scott A.; Olsen, Glenn H.; Mitchell, Mark A.
Schummer, M. L., Afton, A. D., Badzinski, S. S., Petrie, S. A., Olsen, G. H., and Mitchell, M. A., 2018, Evaluating the waterfowl breeding population and habitat survey for scaup: Journal of Wildlife Management, v. 82, no. 6, p. 1252-1262. https://doi.org/10.1002/jwmg.21478

Year Published: 2018

Flow-mediated effects on travel time, routing, and survival of juvenile Chinook salmon in a spatially complex, tidally forced river delta

We evaluated the interacting influences of river flows and tides on travel time, routing, and survival of juvenile late-fall Chinook salmon (Oncorhynchus tshawytscha) migrating through the Sacramento–San Joaquin River Delta. To quantify these effects, we jointly modeled the travel time, survival, and migration routing in relation to individual...

Perry, Russell W.; Pope, Adam C.; Romine, Jason G.; Brandes, Patricia L.; Burau, Jon R.; Blake, Aaron R.; Ammann, Arnold J.; Michel, Cyril J.
Perry, R.W., A.C. Pope, J.G. Romine, P.L. Brandes, J.R. Burau, A.R. Blake, A.J. Ammann, and C.J. Michel. Flow-mediated effects on travel time, routing, and survival of juvenile Chinook salmon in a spatially complex, tidally forced river delta. Can. J. Fish. Aquat. Sci. (Online First).

Year Published: 2018

Herbicides and herbivory interact to drive plant community and crop‐tree establishment

Land management practices often directly alter vegetation structure and composition, but the degree to which ecological processes such as herbivory interact with management to influence biodiversity is less well understood. We hypothesized that large herbivores compound the effects of intensive forest management on early seral plant communities...

Stokely, Thomas D.; Verschuyl, Jake; Hagar, Joan; Betts, Matthew G.
Stokely, T.D., Verschuyl, J.V., Hagar, J.C., Betts, M.G., 2018, Herbicides and herbivory interact to drive plant community establishment and tree survival: Ecological Applications, p. online, https://doi.org/10.1002/eap.1777.

Year Published: 2018

Biological and ecological science for Ohio—The Buckeye State

Ohio is home to lakes, rivers, streams, wetlands, forests, prairies, and 312 miles of Lake Erie shoreline. These resources sustain Ohio’s communities by supporting vital sectors of the economy and cultural heritage such as fishing, hunting, and other outdoor recreation. Lake Erie provides drinking water for 3 million Ohioans, supports 124,000 Ohio...

Attribution: Ecosystems
U.S. Geological Survey, 2018, Biological and ecological science for Ohio—The Buckeye State: U.S. Geological Survey Fact Sheet 2018-3034, 2 p., https://doi.org/10.3133/fs20183034.

Year Published: 2018

Prepublication communication of research results

Publishing of scientific findings is central to the scientific process, and it is traditional to consider findings “provisional” until accepted by a peer-reviewed journal. Until publication, communication of provisional findings beyond participants in the study is typically limited. This practice helps assure scientific integrity. However, a...

Adams, Michael J.; Harris, Reid N.; Campbell Grant, Evan H.; Gray, Matthew J.; Hopkins, M. Camille ; Iverson, Samuel A.; Likens, Robert; Mandica, Mark; Olson, Deanna H.; Shepack, Alex; Waddle, Hardin
Adams, M.J., Harris, R.N., Grant, E.H., Gray, M.J., Hopkins, M.C., Iverson, S.A., Likens, R., Mandica, M., Olson, D.H., Shepack, A., Waddle, J.H., 2018, Pre-publication communication of research results: EcoHealth, p. online, https://doi.org/10.1007/s10393-018-1352-3.

Year Published: 2018

An introduction and practical guide to use of the Soil-Vegetation Inventory Method (SVIM) data

Long-term vegetation dynamics across public rangelands in the western United States are not well understood because of the lack of large-scale, readily available historic datasets. The Bureau of Land Management’s Soil-Vegetation Inventory Method (SVIM) program was implemented between 1977 and 1983 across 14 western states, but...

Barker, Brittany S.; Pilliod, David S.; Welty, Justin; Arkle, Robert S.; Karl, Michael G. "Sherm"; Toevs, Gordon R.
Barker, B.S., Pilliod, D.S., Welty, J.L., Arkle, R.S., Karl, M.G., Toevs, G.R., 2018, An introduction and practical guide to the use of the Soil - Vegetation Inventory Method (SVIM) data: Rangeland Ecology and Management, p. online, https://doi.org/10.1016/j.rama.2018.06.003.

Year Published: 2018

Effects of local shoreline and subestuary watershed condition on waterbird community integrity: Influences of geospatial scale and season in the Chesapeake Bay

In many coastal regions throughout the world, there is increasing pressure to harden shorelines to protect human infrastructures against sea level rise, storm surge, and erosion. This study examines waterbird community integrity in relation to shoreline hardening and land use characteristics at three geospatial scales: (1) the shoreline scale...

Prosser, Diann J.; Nagel, Jessica L.; Howlin, Shay; Marban, Paul; Day, Daniel D.; Erwin, R. Michael
Prosser, D. J., Nagel, J. L., Howlin, S., Marbán, P. R., Day, D. D., and Erwin, R. M., 2018, Effects of local shoreline and subestuary watershed condition on waterbird community integrity: influences of geospatial scale and season in the Chesapeake Bay: Estuaries and Coasts, v. 41, Supplement 1, p. 207–222. https://doi.org/10.1007/s12237-017-0288-0

Year Published: 2018

Using partial aggregation in spatial capture recapture

Spatial capture–recapture (SCR) models are commonly used for analysing data collected using noninvasive genetic sampling (NGS). Opportunistic NGS often leads to detections that do not occur at discrete detector locations. Therefore, spatial aggregation of individual detections into fixed detectors (e.g., centre of grid cells) is an option to...

Milleret, Cyril; Dupont, Pierre; Broseth, Henrik; Kindberg, Jonas; Royle, J. Andrew; Bischof, Richard
Milleret, C., Dupont, P., Broseth, H., Kindberg, J., Royle, J. A., and Bischof, R., 2018, Using partial aggregation in spatial capture recapture: Methods in Ecology and Evolution, v. 9, no. 8, p. 1896-1907. https://doi.org/10.1111/2041-210X.13030

Year Published: 2018

Real-time decision-making during emergency disease outbreaks

In the event of a new infectious disease outbreak, mathematical and simulation models are commonly used to inform policy by evaluating which control strategies will minimize the impact of the epidemic. In the early stages of such outbreaks, substantial parameter uncertainty may limit the ability of models to provide accurate predictions, and...

Probert, William J. M.; Jewell, Chris P.; Werkman, Marleen; Fonnesbeck, Christopher.J.; Goto, Yoshitaka; Runge, Michael C.; Sekiguchi, Satoshi; Shea, Katriona; Keeling, Matt J.; Ferrari, Matthew J.; Tildesley, Michael J.
Probert, W. J. M., Jewell, C. P., Werkman, M., Fonnesbeck, C. J., Goto, Y., Runge, M. C., Sekiguchi, S., Shea, K., Keeling, M. J., Ferrari, M. J., and Tildesley, M. J., 2018, Real-time decision-making during emergency disease outbreaks: PLoS Computational Biology, v. 14, no. 7, p. e1006202; 18p. https://doi.org/10.1371/journal.pcbi.1006202

Year Published: 2018

Impacts of coastal land use and shoreline armoring on estuarine ecosystems: An introduction to a special issue

The nearshore land-water interface is an important ecological zone that faces anthropogenic pressure from development in coastal regions throughout the world. Coastal waters and estuaries like Chesapeake Bay receive and process land discharges loaded with anthropogenic nutrients and other pollutants that cause eutrophication, hypoxia, and other...

Prosser, Diann J.; Jordan, Thomas E.; Nagel, Jessica L.; Seitz, Rochelle D.; Weller, Donald E.; Whigham, Dennis F.
Prosser, D. J., Jordan, T. E., Nagel, J. L., Seitz, R. D., Weller, D. E., and Whigham, D. F., 2018, Impacts of coastal land use and shoreline armoring on estuarine ecosystems: An introduction to a special issue: Estuaries and Coasts, v. 41, Supplement 1, p. 2-28. https://doi.org/10.1007/s12237-017-0331-1

Year Published: 2018

Regional variation in drivers of connectivity for two frog species (Rana pretiosa and R. luteiventris) from the U.S. Pacific Northwest

Comparative landscape genetics has uncovered high levels of variability in which landscape factors affect connectivity among species and regions. However, the relative importance of species traits versus environmental variation for predicting landscape patterns of connectivity is unresolved. We provide evidence from a landscape genetics study of...

Robertson, Jeanne M.; Murphy, Melanie A.; Pearl, Christopher; Adams, Michael J.; Paez-Vacas, Monica I.; Haig, Susan M.; Pilliod, David S.; Storfer, Andrew; Funk, W. Chris
Robertson, J.M., Murphy, M.A., Pearl, C.A., Adams, M.J., Páez-Vacas, M.I., Haig, S.M., Pilliod, D.S., Storfer, A., Funk, W., 2018, Regional variation in drivers of connectivity for two frog species (Rana pretiosa and R. luteiventris) from the U.S. Pacific Northwest: Molecular Ecology, p. online, https://doi.org/10.1111/mec.14798.

Filter Total Items: 667
1985-2018 Lion fish invasion. Ecosystems Mission Area. Wetlands and Aquatic Research Center
May 16, 2018

1985-2018 Lionfish Invasion

Lionfish invasion (1985-2018). Lionfish invaded US Atlantic coastal waters, the Caribbean Sea, and the Gulf of Mexico with unprecedented, alarming speed. Though reports of sightings date back to the 1980s, it is only recently that the species has exploded in numbers and range. In fact, the lionfish invasion is the 

Giant gartersnake (Thamnophis gigas)
May 14, 2018

Threatened Giant Gartersnake (Thamnophis gigas)

Threatened giant gartersnake (Thamnophis gigas). This semi-aquatic snake lives in rice fields and the remaining wetlands of California's Central Valley.

Sonoran desert scene showing invasion by red brome grass and fire scars on a saguaro cactus.
April 30, 2018

Red Brome Carries Fire and Burns Saguaros

Bromus Rubens (red brome) is an invasive annual grass that grows in warmer deserts of the Southwest U.S. It can carry fires in systems that aren't fire adapted, causing lasting damage to desert flora, as shown here in the Sonoran desert north of Phoenix, AZ. The

April 26, 2018

PubTalk 4/2018 - Coral Reefs

Title: The Role of U.S. Coral Reefs in Coastal Protection - Rigorously valuing flood reduction benefits to inform coastal zone management decisions

  • Coral reefs are a first line of coastal defense
  • We can account for the physical defense that reefs provide
  • We can provide value-based information to guide restoration efforts at management-relevant
Two men stand in a grassland beneath a sky filled with fluffy cumulus clouds and a blue sky.
March 31, 2018

Standing in the field with mangers

Touring public lands, guided by the people who manage the lands, is a important to RAMPS. On these tours we get to meet the passionate people, understand their challenges and aspirations, and help make steps towards innovative science-based solutions. In this photo staff from BLM's Aqua Fria National Monument stand with USGS scientist, Seth Munson and discuss how to

Thermal habitat mapping using kayak-mounted sensors
March 26, 2018

June 2018 "USGS At Work" category winner Carrie Blakeslee

Jeff Cole, USGS Northern Appalachian Research Laboratory, using temperature sensors and a humminbird sonar system mounted on a kayak to map the thermal habitat of the East Branch (Fishs Eddy, New York) of the Delaware River.

Southern Sea Otters Floating in Morro Bay, CA
March 6, 2018

Southern Sea Otters Floating in Morro Bay, CA

Southern sea otters (Enhydra lutris nereis) float in Morro Bay, CA.

View of the sonoran desert at Organ Pipe Cactus National Monument showing an organ pipe cactus and mountains of Mexico
February 28, 2018

Organ Pipe Cactus National Monument

Organ pipe cactus are rare in the Sonoran desert in the U.S. They can only be found in and around Organ Pipe Cactus National Monument, shown here. The distribution of Organ Pipe Cactus is limited due to lack of tolerance for cold temperatures. The biota of the Sonoran desert is particularly senstive to disturbance. Soils often erode quickly once vegetation is removed. The

February 28, 2018

Bee Laboratory (Instagram Story)

Instagram story showing the USGS Bee Inventory and Monitoring Lab clearing invasive species from a field.

Asian carp removal in Missouri
February 23, 2018

Asian Carp Removal in Missouri

In 2018, USGS and partners completed an incredible feat against a harmful aquatic invasive species when over 240,000 pounds of invasive Silver Carp and Bighead Carp were removed from Creve Coeur Lake in Maryland Heights, Missouri.

Female northern harrier gaze
February 9, 2018

Female Northern Harrier (Circus cyaneus) Gaze

A female northern harrier (Circus cyaneus) gazes into the camera at Suisun Marsh, CA.

Picture of field water-level monitoring gage EDEN 13
January 31, 2018

Field water-level monitoring gage EDEN 13

Field water-level monitoring gage EDEN 13. Photograph by Michael Oliver, U.S. Geological Survey.
U.S. Geological Survey Fact Sheet 2017–3069
Version 1.1, January 2018

Filter Total Items: 322
Date published: December 13, 2017

Taking the Bait: Majority of Prairie Dogs Are Consuming Plague Vaccine

About 70 percent of wild prairie dogs successfully ingested baits containing an oral sylvatic plague vaccine, or SPV, that were distributed throughout their habitats, according to a new U.S. Geological Survey study.

Date published: December 12, 2017

Saving Salamanders: Vital to Ecosystem Health

Amphibians—the big-eyed, swimming-crawling-jumping-climbing group of water and land animals that includes frogs, toads, salamanders and worm-like caecilians—are the world’s most endangered vertebrates. 

Date published: December 4, 2017

Avian Flu From Abroad Can Spread in North American Poultry, Wild Birds

Some avian influenza, or bird flu, viruses that are able to enter North America from other continents through migrating birds can be deadly to poultry and can infect waterfowl populations, according to a recently published U.S. Geological Survey study.

Date published: November 24, 2017

Serene Sirens: USGS Sea Cow Science

It may be hard to believe the legend that sailors long-at-sea once considered manatees to be mermaids. The manatee nickname – the “Sea Cow” – which comes from the herbivores’ affinity for grazing on vegetation and their slow, ambling way just makes more sense. But a U.S. Geological Survey video reveals that while they may be cow-like, they also have more than a bit of the magical mermaid to them.

Attribution: Ecosystems
Date published: October 25, 2017

Biologist starting over after Hurricane Irma damages home, office, research site

Coral reef expert Caroline Rogers was the only USGS employee in the Virgin Islands when the Category 5 storm hit.

Date published: October 23, 2017

Trick or Treat? The Frightening Threats to Bats

Written by Marisa Lubeck and Ethan Alpern

Date published: September 29, 2017

Annual Southern Sea Otter Survey: Despite Small Population Dip, Species Moves a Step Closer to Recovery

According to data released Friday by the U.S. Geological Survey and partners, the three-year average of the total counts of southern sea otters was down from last year’s high, although it still exceeded the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service’s delisting threshold for a second straight year.

Date published: September 27, 2017

Research to Recover Threatened Waterfowl: USGS Cooperative Fish and Wildlife Research Unit Supervisor Receives Prestigious U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service Recovery Champion Award

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.

Date published: September 19, 2017

Emerging Disease Further Jeopardizes North American Frogs

A deadly amphibian disease called severe Perkinsea infections, or SPI, is the cause of many large-scale frog die-offs in the United States, according to a new study by the U.S. Geological Survey

Date published: September 18, 2017

Western Fisheries Science News, August 2017 | Issue 5.8

Science to Support Salmon Recovery Efforts in the Puget Sound