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.

  

Check out our Cool Tools for Hot Topics!
Filter Total Items: 633
Date published: May 17, 2018
Status: Active

Asian Carp

The negative effects of invasive Asian carp to the Nation’s waterways are far reaching and have potential to expand and intensify. USGS is delivering data, tools and technologies to partners to keep these invasive fish out of the Great Lakes and other aquatic ecosystems and control them where they occur in the Ohio River and Mississippi River Basins.

Contacts: Earl Campbell
Date published: May 10, 2018
Status: Active

Land Treatment Planning Tool

The Land Treatment Planning Tool provides a practical resource for managers who are planning restoration and rehabilitation actions on public lands. The tool generates a variety of spatial products while being user friendly for all levels of GIS expertise, even to those with little or no experience.

Date published: May 10, 2018
Status: Active

Joint Ecosystem Modeling: Cape Sable Seaside Sparrow Marl Prairie Indicator

Marl prairie is the most diverse freshwater vegetation community in the Greater Everglades and provides the only suitable habitat for the federally endangered Cape Sable seaside sparrow (CSSS; Ammodramus maritimus mirabilis).

Date published: May 10, 2018
Status: Active

Joint Ecosystem Modeling: EverSnail

EverSnail, developed in collaboration with the University of West Florida, is an age- and size-structured spatially-explicit landscape model of native apple snails (Pomacea paludosa).

Date published: May 10, 2018
Status: Active

Joint Ecosystem Modeling: Alligator Production Probability Model

Because the American alligator (Alligator mississippiensis) is a keystone species of the Everglades ecosystem, managers need a way to quantitatively assess the effects of alternative restoration scenarios on alligators.

Date published: May 7, 2018
Status: Active

Sea turtle nesting on Eglin Air Force Base property, Cape San Blas, Florida

The Northwestern Atlantic population of loggerhead sea turtles is one of the largest in the world. Genetic studies have divided this population into 5 management units including a genetically distinct group that nests throughout the northern Gulf of Mexico (GoM).

Date published: May 2, 2018
Status: Active

Remote Sensing

USGS is using remote sensing of Fisheries and Aquatic Communities to monitor and assess fish populations and aquatic communities.

Date published: May 2, 2018
Status: Active

Data Visualization

USGS aquatic scientists are developing data visualization tools to assist
natural resource managers in decision‐making and adaptive management.

Date published: May 2, 2018
Status: Active

Statistical Modeling

The USGS is incorporating different species and aquatic communities into statistical models to begin developing tools that quantify relationships between flow and total ecosystem services provided by river systems for human benefit. 

Date published: May 2, 2018
Status: Active

Genetics and Genomics

USGS aquatic scientists develop and adapt new technologies and tools that increase the effectiveness, efficiency, safety, and accuracy of aquatic ecosystem management.

Date published: May 2, 2018
Status: Active

Fish Tagging and Tracking

USGS Fisheries scientists apply advanced technologies to monitor and assess fish populations and aquatic communities.

Date published: May 1, 2018
Status: Active

Restoration of Aquatic Ecosystems

USGS Fisheries scientists work with partners to assess the physiology, life history, reproduction, and habitat needs of aquatic species to assist managers to develop techniques to understand, conserve, and restore fish communities.

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

National Gap Analysis Program (GAP)

This site provides data and tools to help answer the question of how well we are protecting common plants and animals (GAP Analysis). Choose a state or the entire United States. Download data for land cover, species, protected areas and more or view online, using the interactive GAP Data Viewers.

Date published: March 4, 2016

National Plants Database

Provides standardized information about the vascular plants, mosses, liverworts, hornworts, and lichens of the United States and its territories.

Attribution: Ecosystems
Date published: March 4, 2016

Web Soil Survey (WSS)

Provides soil data and information produced by the National Cooperative Soil Survey.

Attribution: Ecosystems
Date published: March 4, 2016

National Wetlands Inventory (NWI) — Wetlands Mapper

This tool produces and provides information on the characteristics, extent, and status of the Nation's wetlands and deepwater habitats and other wildlife habitats.

Attribution: Ecosystems
Date published: December 17, 2013

American Fisheries Society List of Freshwater Gastropods (Snails) from Canada and the United States

At this website, one can view lists of native freshwater snails by state or province boundary, and plot distributions of snails by political boundaries. Lists can be downloaded for use in reports or analyses. Data file last updated 12/17/2013.

Date published: April 25, 2013

The 2008 AFS Endangered Species Committee list of imperiled freshwater and diadromous fishes of North America

At this website, one can view lists of imperiled fishes by freshwater ecoregion, by state or province boundary, and plot distributions of imperiled fishes by ecoregions or political boundaries. Data file last updated 4/25/2013.

Date published: March 17, 2011

The 2007 AFS Endangered Species Committee list of common and imperiled freshwater crayfishes of the United States and Canada

At this website, one can view lists of crayfishes by freshwater ecoregion, by state or province boundary, and plot distributions of crayfishes by ecoregions or political boundaries. Data file last updated 3/17/2011.

Date published: January 1, 2011

Lake Michigan Volunteer AMBLE – Avian Monitoring for Botulism Lakeshore Events

The National Wildlife Health Center, with help from partners and support from the Great Lakes Restoration Initiative, organized “Lake Michigan Volunteer AMBLE – Avian Monitoring for Botulism Lakeshore Events” in 2011. The goal of AMBLE was to empower concerned citizens to monitor bird health and beach conditions along the Lake Michigan shoreline, thus increasing knowledge of avian botulism...

Date published: September 9, 2010

Mangrove Secrets

The Sheltered Corals of Hurricane Hole, US Virgin Islands

Filter Total Items: 2,384
Year Published: 2018

Rivers are social–ecological systems: Time to integrate human dimensions into riverscape ecology and management

Incorporation of concepts from landscape ecology into understanding and managing riverine ecosystems has become widely known as riverscape ecology. Riverscape ecology emphasizes interactions among processes at different scales and their consequences for valued ecosystem components, such as riverine fishes. Past studies have focused strongly on...

Dunham, Jason B.; Angermeier, Paul L.; Crausbay, Shelley D.; Cravens, Amanda; Gosnell, Hannah; McEvoy, Jamie; Moritz, Max A.; Raheem, Nejem; Sanford, Todd
Dunham, J.B., Angermeier, P.L., Crausbay, S., Cravens, A., Gosnell, H., McEvoy, J., Moritz, M., Raheem, N., Sanford, T., 2018, Rivers are social–ecological systems- Time to integrate human dimensions into riverscape ecology and management: WIREs Water, p. online, https://doi.org/10.1002/wat2.1291.

Year Published: 2018

Biology and impacts of Pacific Islands invasive species. 14. Sus scrofa the feral pig (Artiodactyla: Suidae)

Feral pigs (Sus scrofa L.) are perhaps the most abundant, widespread, and economically significant large introduced vertebrate across the Pacific island region. Unlike many other nonnative invasive species, feral pigs have both cultural and recreational importance in the region, complicating their management. Today, Pacific island feral pigs...

Wehr, Nathaniel H. ; Hess, Steven C.; Litton, Creighton M.

Year Published: 2018

Status and trends of adult Lost River (Deltistes luxatus) and shortnose (Chasmistes brevirostris) sucker populations in Upper Klamath Lake, Oregon, 2017

Executive SummaryData from a long-term capture-recapture program were used to assess the status and dynamics of populations of two long-lived, federally endangered catostomids in Upper Klamath Lake, Oregon. Lost River suckers (LRS; Deltistes luxatus) and shortnose suckers (SNS; Chasmistes brevirostris) have been captured and tagged with passive...

Hewitt, David A.; Janney, Eric C.; Hayes, Brian S.; Harris, Alta C.
Hewitt, D.A., Janney, E.C., Hayes, B.S., and Harris, A.C., 2018, Status and trends of adult Lost River (Deltistes luxatus) and shortnose (Chasmistes brevirostris) sucker populations in Upper Klamath Lake, Oregon, 2017: U.S. Geological Survey Open-File Report 2018-1064, 31 p., https://doi.org/10.3133/ofr20181064.

Year Published: 2018

Helping decision makers frame, analyze, and implement decisions

All decisions have the same recognizable elements. Context, objectives, alternatives, consequences, and deliberation. Decision makers and analysts familiar with these elements can quickly see the underlying structure of a decision.There are only a small number of classes of decisions. These classes differ in the cognitive and scientific challenge...

Runge, Michael C.; McDonald-Madden, Eve
Runge, M. C. and McDonald-Madden, E., 2018, Helping decision makers frame, analyze, and implement decisions: Decision Point Online, v. 104, p. 12-15. http://decision-point.com.au/article/navigating-the-field-of-decision-analysis/

Year Published: 2018

Spatial, road geometric, and biotic factors associated with Barn Owl mortality along an interstate highway

Highway programs typically focus on reducing vehicle collisions with large mammals because of economic or safety reasons while overlooking the millions of birds that die annually from traffic. We studied wildlife‐vehicle collisions along an interstate highway in southern Idaho, USA, with among the highest reported rates of American Barn Owl ...

Arnold, Erin M.; Hanser, Steven E.; Regan, Tempe; Thompson, Jeremy; Lowe, Melinda; Kociolek, Angela; Belthoff, James R.
Attribution: Ecosystems
Arnold, E.M., Hanser, S.E., Regan, T., Thompson, J., Lowe, M., Kociolek, A. and Belthoff, J.R., Spatial, road geometric, and biotic factors associated with Barn Owl mortality along an interstate highway. Ibis.

Year Published: 2018

Juvenile Lost River and shortnose sucker year class strength, survival, and growth in Upper Klamath Lake, Oregon, and Clear Lake Reservoir, California—2016 Monitoring Report

Executive SummaryThe largest populations of federally endangered Lost River (Deltistes luxatus) and shortnose suckers (Chasmistes brevirostris) exist in Upper Klamath Lake, Oregon, and Clear Lake Reservoir, California. Upper Klamath Lake populations are decreasing because adult mortality, which is relatively low, is not being balanced by...

Burdick, Summer M.; Ostberg, Carl O.; Hoy, Marshal S.
Burdick, S.M., Ostberg, C.O., and Hoy, M.S., 2018, Juvenile Lost River and shortnose sucker year class strength, survival, and growth in Upper Klamath Lake, Oregon, and Clear Lake Reservoir, California—2016 Monitoring Report: U.S. Geological Survey Open-File Report 2018–1066, 43 p., https://doi.org/10.3133/ofr20181066.

Year Published: 2018

Monitoring stream temperatures—A guide for non-specialists

Executive SummaryWater temperature influences most physical and biological processes in streams, and along with streamflows is a major driver of ecosystem processes. Collecting data to measure water temperature is therefore imperative, and relatively straightforward. Several protocols exist for collecting stream temperature data, but these are...

Heck, Michael P.; Schultz, Luke D.; Hockman-Wert, David; Dinger, Eric C.; Dunham, Jason B.
Heck, M.P., Schultz, L.D., Hockman-Wert, D., Dinger, E.C., and Dunham, J.B., 2018, Monitoring stream temperatures—A guide for non-specialists: U.S. Geological Survey Techniques and Methods, book 3, chap. A25, 76 p., https://doi.org/10.3133/tm3A25.

Year Published: 2018

Brown trout in the Lees Ferry reach of the Colorado River—Evaluation of causal hypotheses and potential interventions

Over the period 2014–2016, the number of nonnative brown trout (Salmo trutta) captured during routine monitoring in the Lees Ferry reach of the Colorado River, downstream of Glen Canyon Dam, began increasing. Management agencies and stakeholders have questioned whether the increase in brown trout in the Lees Ferry reach represents a threat to the...

Runge, Michael C.; Yackulic, Charles B.; Bair, Lucas S.; Kennedy, Theodore A.; Valdez, Richard A.; Ellsworth, Craig; Kershner, Jeffrey L.; Rogers, R. Scott; Trammell, Melissa A.; Young, Kirk L.
Runge, M.C., Yackulic, C.B., Bair, L.S., Kennedy, T.A., Valdez, R.A., Ellsworth, C., Kershner J.L., Rogers, R.S., Trammell, M.A., and Young, K.L., 2018, Brown trout in the Lees Ferry reach of the Colorado River—Evaluation of causal hypotheses and potential interventions: U.S. Geological Survey Open-File Report 2018–1069, 83 p., https://doi.org/10.3133/ofr20181069.

Year Published: 2018

Decision support frameworks and tools for conservation

The practice of conservation occurs within complex socioecological systems fraught with challenges that require transparent, defensible, and often socially engaged project planning and management. Planning and decision support frameworks are designed to help conservation practitioners increase planning rigor, project accountability, stakeholder...

Schwartz, Mark W.; Cook, Carly N.; Pressey, Robert L.; Pullin, Andrew S.; Runge, Michael C.; Salafsky, Nick; Sutherland, William J.; Williamson, Matthew A.
Schwartz, M. W., Cook, C. N., Pressey, R. L., Pullin, A. S., Runge, M. C., Salafsky, N, Sutherland, W. J., and Williamson, M. A., 2018, Decision support frameworks and tools for conservation: Conservation Letters, v. 11, no. 2, article no. e12385. https://doi.org/10.1111/conl.12385

Year Published: 2018

Evaluating autonomous acoustic surveying techniques for rails in tidal marshes

There is a growing interest toward the use of autonomous recording units (ARUs) for acoustic surveying of secretive marsh bird populations. However, there is little information on how ARUs compare to human surveyors or how best to use ARU data that can be collected continuously throughout the day. We used ARUs to conduct 2 acoustic surveys for...

Stiffler, Lydia L.; Anderson, James T.; Katzner, Todd
Stiffler, L.L., Anderson, J.T., Katzner, T.E., 2018, Evaluating autonomous acoustic surveying techniques for rails in tidal marshes: Wildlife Society Bulletin, p. online, https://doi.org/10.1002/wsb.860.

Year Published: 2018

Flight response to spatial and temporal correlates informs risk from wind turbines to the California Condor

Wind power is a fast-growing energy resource, but wind turbines can kill volant wildlife, and the flight behavior of obligate soaring birds can place them at risk of collision with these structures. We analyzed altitudinal data from GPS telemetry of critically endangered California Condors (Gymnogyps californianus) to assess the circumstances...

Poessel, Sharon; Brandt, Joseph; Mendenhall, Laura C.; Braham, Melissa A.; Lanzone, Michael J.; McGann, Andrew J.; Katzner, Todd
Poessel, S.A., Brandt, J., Mendenhall, L., Braham, M.A., Lanzone, M.J., McGann, A.J., Katzner, T.E., 2018, Flight response to spatial and temporal correlates informs risk from wind turbines to the California Condor: The Condor, v. 120, p. 330-342, https://doi.org/10.1650/CONDOR-17-100.1.

Year Published: 2018

New insights into the phylogenetics and population structure of the prairie falcon (Falco mexicanus)

BackgroundManagement requires a robust understanding of between- and within-species genetic variability, however such data are still lacking in many species. For example, although multiple population genetics studies of the peregrine falcon (Falco peregrinus) have been conducted, no similar studies have been done of the closely-related prairie...

Doyle, Jacqueline M.; Bell, Douglas A.; Bloom, Peter H.; Emmons, Gavin; Fesnock, Amy; Katzner, Todd; LePre, Larry; Leonard, Kolbe; SanMiguel, Phillip; Westerman, Rick; DeWoody, J. Andrew
Doyle, J.M., Bell, D.A., Bloom, P.H., Emmons, G., Fesnock, A., Katzner, T.E., Lapre, L., Leonard, K., SanMiguel, P., Westerman, R., DeWoody, J.A., 2018, New insights into the phylogenetics and population structure of the prairie falcon (Falco mexicanus): BMC Genomics, v. 19, p. 233, https://doi.org/10.1186/s12864-018-4615-z.

Filter Total Items: 621
Photomicrograph of a green desmid alga resembling a holiday ornament
August 31, 2017

A natural marvel in a single cell

This single-celled freshwater algae wasa collected as part of the first-ever study of the green algae family called desmids in Florida’s Loxahatchee National Wildlife Refuge, in the northern Everglades. USGS biologist Barry H. Rosen, an expert on freshwater algae who leads the study, used a technique called differential interference microscopy to highlight the relief of

...
Man measuring a little red bird.
August 31, 2017

Iiwi banding 2

Measuring the wing length of a banded Iiwi

Man holding red bird.
August 31, 2017

Iiwi with transmitter

Iiwi with small radio transmitter attached to help track the bird's movement through the forest

View of the lush green San Rafael grasslands of southern Arizona and northern Mexico, framed by a cloudy blue sky.
August 31, 2017

The Sonoran desert has grasslands, too.

The San Rafael grasslands are a diverse ecosystem in southern Arizona along the U.S./Mexico border region, a part of the Madrean Archipelago ecoregion. The USGS RAMPS program conducts collaborative

...
American pika in the Northern Cascades. American pikas occupy talus slopes in mountain ecosystems throughout western NA.
August 8, 2017

American pika in the Northern Cascades.

American pika in the Northern Cascades. American pikas occupy talus slopes in mountain ecosystems throughout western North America.

WERC researcher conducting elevation surveys in San Pablo Bay National Wildlife Refuge
July 31, 2017

WERC Elevation surveys in San Pablo Bay NWR

WERC researcher conducting elevation surveys in San Pablo Bay National Wildlife Refuge

WERC Coastal ecosystem
July 31, 2017

WERC Coastal Ecosystem Studies

Coastal ecosystem studies at Trinidad coast, California. 

Two researchers aligning a 2 meter by 2 meter PVC square for an experimental restoration plot within a fenced area.
July 31, 2017

Setting up experimental restoration plots.

Field crew install a Restoration Field Trial Network garden in the rangelands of Northern Arizona. Each garden in the network is examining seedlings and seeds in conjunction with restoration treatments to better

...
chart of vegetation change in the bird's foot delta
July 31, 2017

Changing vegetation in the Delta 2016-2017

Chart showing changes in vegetation density in the Mississippi River delta in Louisiana, May 2015-May 2016. From a USGS Open File Report published in July 2017 by co-authors Elijah Ramsey III and Amina Rangoonwala,

July 31, 2017

A Current Immersion

Curt Storlazzi of the USGS explains how the water cycle pulled him into oceanography, and how his personal interests parallel his profession.
 

Mallard Duckling
July 26, 2017

Mallard Duckling from Suisun Marsh

This mallard duckling was captured in Suisun Marsh. USGS scientists are weighing, measuring and banding waterfowl to understand how they are using the marsh and for capture-recapture data. 

Filter Total Items: 320
Date published: April 18, 2017

Deadly Deer Disease Expected to Grow Rapidly and Spread in Wisconsin

A new tool, which predicted the recent, rapid growth and continued spread of chronic wasting disease in deer, can help forecast and manage other costly biological threats to humans, animals and the environment, according to a recently published U.S. Geological Survey study.

Date published: April 11, 2017

Florida Manatees Likely to Persist For At Least 100 Years—US Geological Survey  

Florida’s iconic manatee population is highly likely to endure for the next 100 years, so long as wildlife managers continue to protect the marine mammals and their habitat, a new study by the US Geological Survey and the Florida Fish and Wildlife Research Institute has found.

Date published: April 11, 2017

Scientists Evaluate Ways to Save Hawaiian Honeycreeper

Long distance flights in search of flowering trees threatens the Hawaiian Iiwi as climate change increases the distribution of avian diseases

Date published: April 11, 2017

Media Inquiries on USGS Manatee Research

We appreciate your interest in USGS' Sirenia Project. To help inform members of the media and public, we have provided relevant publications, reports, and websites. 

Date published: April 10, 2017

Turtles Die in Southern California Lake Following Drought and Fire

Almost all of the turtles living in a southern California lake died following a large fire and years of drought, according to a new U.S. Geological Survey report published in the journal Knowledge and Management of Aquatic Ecosystems.

Date published: April 6, 2017

Western Fisheries Science News, March 2016 | Issue 4.3

Understanding the Effects of Temperature on Diseases in Fish

Date published: April 4, 2017

Hybridization between Native and Invasive Trout is Increasing in the West

Hybridization, or the interbreeding of species, is increasing between native and invasive trout across the northern Rocky Mountains, according to a study released Tuesday by the U.S. Geological Survey and partners.

Date published: April 4, 2017

Western Fisheries Science News, March 2017 | Issue 5.3

Early Detection Monitoring May Not Be Sufficient for Invasive Mussels in the Columbia River Basin

Date published: March 29, 2017

USGS and Partners Team Up to Track Down Nonnative and Invasive Fishes in South Florida

The Fish Slam event discovered two nonnative fish species never seen before in Big Cypress National Preserve.

 

 

Date published: March 28, 2017

Sex-Shifting Fish: Growth Rate Could Determine Sea Lamprey Sex

Unlike most animals, sea lampreys, an invasive, parasitic species of fish damaging the Great Lakes, could become male or female depending on how quickly they grow, according to a U.S. Geological Survey study published today.

Date published: March 23, 2017

Chandler Robbins Inspired Generations of Scientists and Birders, 1918-2017

U.S. Geological Survey scientist emeritus Chandler S. Robbins, whose heartfelt love of birds, quicksilver mind, boundless energy and sunny demeanor made him a major force in bird conservation in the U.S. and worldwide, died Monday, March 20 at the age of 98.

Date published: March 21, 2017

Livestock grazing effects on sage-grouse: study identifies options to sustain ranching and help wildlife

Effects of livestock grazing on greater sage-grouse populations can be positive or negative depending on the amount of grazing and when grazing occurs, according to research published today in Ecological Applications. The research was conducted by scientists from the United States Geological Survey, Colorado State University and Utah State University.