Mission Areas L2 Landing Page Tabs
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.
Check out our Cool Tools for Hot Topics!
The Bird Banding Laboratory (BBL) is an integrated scientific program established in 1920 supporting the collection, archiving, management and dissemination of information from banded and marked birds in North America. This information is used to monitor the status and trends of resident and migratory bird populations. Because birds are good indicators of the health of the environment, the...
USGS provides fisheries research information to restore and enhance fish habitat and understand fish diseases. Endangered species and those that are imperiled receive special research interest. Aquatic Invasive Species research is aiding in early detection and control measures, as well as understanding impacts these invaders have on aquatic environments.
USGS research in advanced technologies, use of remote sensing, and research and monitoring in large river systems across the U.S. uniquely positions the USGS Fisheries Program to contribute to practical applications of landscape science.
As part of the USGS Fisheries program, ecological flows, or the relationships between quality, quantity, and timing of water flows and ecological response of aquatic biota and ecosystems; and related ecosystem services are being investigated.
Climate change is an additional stressor in a complex suite of threats facing freshwater ecosystems. Climate change is already stressing many freshwater species by warming water temperatures, shifting streamflow regimes, increasing extreme events (e.g., floods, drought, wildfire), and facilitating species invasions.
USGS fisheries scientists study the complex...
USGS scientists conduct studies to understand how aquatic species interact with each other and their environment in a wide range of aquatic habitats, including streams, rivers, lakes, wetlands, and coastal areas. USGS scientists quantify and describe functional relationships among aquatic species and habitats to describe aquatic community structure, function, adaptation, and sustainability....
The USGS Fisheries Program develops valuable tools for assessing species’ vulnerability to environmental stressors, focusing on 3 critical elements: exposure (magnitude of change), sensitivity (likelihood of adverse impacts), and adaptive capacity (species’ ability to cope with change). For example, our scientists develop the tools and science to help water managers evaluate tradeoffs in...
The USGS investigates pathogens and other environmental factors that affect aquatic organism health to support the management, conservation, and restoration of aquatic species.
USGS investigates pathogen discovery, causes, and drivers; researches disease ecology and immunology; and develops advanced tools for surveillance, risk assessment, and control of diseases that impact aquatic organism health to support the management, conservation, and restoration of aquatic species.
USGS research focuses on fish physiology and behavioral characteristics, vulnerability assessments, and development of indicator tools that can be used to inform decisions with the goal of sustaining and enhancing fisheries resources in concert with human uses.
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...
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.
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.
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.
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
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
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
Potential impacts of projected climate change on vegetation management in Hawai`i Volcanoes National Park
Climate change will likely alter the seasonal and annual patterns of rainfall and temperature in Hawai`i. This is a major concern for resource managers at Hawai`i Volcanoes National Park where intensely managed Special Ecological Areas (SEAs), focal sites for managing rare and endangered plants, may no longer provide suitable habitat under future...Camp, Richard J.; Loh, Rhonda; Berkowitz, S. Paul; Brinck, Kevin W.; Jacobi, James D.; Price, Jonathan; McDaniel, Sierra; Fortini, Lucas B.
Model structure of the stream salmonid simulator (S3)—A dynamic model for simulating growth, movement, and survival of juvenile salmonids
Fisheries and water managers often use population models to aid in understanding the effect of alternative water management or restoration actions on anadromous fish populations. We developed the Stream Salmonid Simulator (S3) to help resource managers evaluate the effect of management alternatives on juvenile salmonid populations. S3 is a...Perry, Russell W.; Plumb, John M.; Jones, Edward C.; Som, Nicholas A.; Hetrick, Nicholas J.; Hardy, Thomas B.
Movements and landscape use of Eastern Imperial Eagles Aquila heliaca in Central Asia
Capsule: We describe ecological factors associated with movements of a globally declining raptor species, the Eastern Imperial Eagle Aquila heliaca.Aims: To describe the movements, habitat associations and resource selection of Eastern Imperial Eagles marked in Central Asia.Methods: We used global positioning system (GPS) data...Poessel, Sharon; Bragin, Evgeny A.; Sharpe, Peter B.; Garcelon, David K.; Bartoszuk, Kordian; Katzner, Todd E.
A laboratory-calibrated model of coho salmon growth with utility for ecological analyses
We conducted a meta-analysis of laboratory- and hatchery-based growth data to estimate broadly applicable parameters of mass- and temperature-dependent growth of juvenile coho salmon (Oncorhynchus kisutch). Following studies of other salmonid species, we incorporated the Ratkowsky growth model into an allometric model and fit this model to growth...Manhard, Christopher V.; Som, Nicholas A.; Perry, Russell W.; Plumb, John M.
Biological and ecological science for Michigan—The Great Lakes State
Michigan is rich in lakes, rivers, dune and rocky shorelines, forests, fish and wildlife, and has the longest freshwater coastline in the United States, 3,224 miles. Many enterprises critical to Michigan’s economy and cultural heritage are based on natural resources including commercial and sport fishing, hunting, and other outdoor recreation....
Distribution and seasonal differences in Pacific Lamprey and Lampetra spp eDNA across 18 Puget Sound watersheds
Lampreys have a worldwide distribution, are functionally important to ecological communities and serve significant roles in many cultures. In Pacific coast drainages of North America, lamprey populations have suffered large declines. However, lamprey population status and trends within many areas of this region are unknown and such information is...Ostberg, Carl O.; Chase, Dorothy M.; Hayes, Michael C.; Duda, Jeffrey J.
Permanent Site: A2 East Transect; Depth: 12.9 Meters (42.3 Feet); Distance from river mouth: Kilometers 1.8 (1.1 Miles); Pre/Post Dam Removal: 6 years post-dam removal; Lat/Long: 48.14130295, -123.58766124; Site Description: One of our deeper sites at over 40 feet. Sediment is primarily sand/sandy mud. Five species of seaweeds are present though not abundant. The two most...
Permanent Site: A2 West Transect; Depth: 12.8 Meters (42.0 Feet); Distance from river mouth: Kilometers 1.8 (1.1 Miles); Pre/Post Dam Removal: 6 years post-dam removal; Lat/Long: 48.14130295, -123.5883331; Site Description: One of our deeper sites at over 40 feet. Sediment is primarily sand/sandy mud with scattered boulders. Seven species of seaweeds are present though not...
Permanent Site: C1 East Transect; Depth: 8.5 Meters (28.0 Feet); Distance from river mouth: 0.7 Kilometers (0.4 Miles); Pre/Post Dam Removal: 6 years post-dam removal; Lat/Long: 48.14525225,-123.57294101; Site Description: Substrate is entirely sand. Current was high and contained lots of drift seaweed and eelgrass (0:05 seconds). In 2016 all seaweeds were absent but this...
Permanent Site: C1 West Transect; Depth: 9.3 Meters (30.4 Feet); Distance from river mouth: 0.7 Kilometers (0.4 Miles); Pre/Post Dam Removal: 6 years post-dam removal; Lat/Long: 48.14525225,-123.57361291; Site Description: Substrate is entirely sand. Current was high and contained lots of drift seaweed and eelgrass (0:04, 0:38 seconds). Though seaweeds were absent in 2016...
Permanent Site: A1 East Transect; Depth: 7.7 Meters (25.4 Feet); Distance from river mouth: 1.8 Kilometers (1.1 Miles) West; Pre/Post Dam Removal: 6 years post-dam removal; Lat/Long: 48.13870775, -123.5855312; Site Description: Transect is in eastern part of Freshwater Bay. Sediment is primarily sand/sandy mud. Previous small boulders appear to still be buried. The sand on...
Permanent Site: A1 West Transect; Depth: 8.7 Meters (28.7 Feet); Distance from river mouth: 1.9 Kilometers (1.2 Miles) West; Pre/Post Dam Removal: 6 years post-dam removal; Lat/Long: 48.13870775, -123.586203; Site Description: Transect is in eastern part of Freshwater Bay. Sediment is primarily sand/sandy mud with patches of boulders. The sandy areas on the entire transect...
Permanent Site: H2 East Transect; Depth: 7.6 Meters (24.8 Feet); Distance from river mouth: 2.6 Kilometers (1.6 Miles) east; Pre/Post Dam Removal: 6 years post-dam removal; Lat/Long: 48.15008216,-123.53210661; Site Description: This site is medium to shallow depth. Substrate is mainly gravel with some sand, cobble and an occasional boulder and has not changed since dam...
Permanent Site: H2 West Transect; Depth: 7.3 Meters (23.8 Feet); Distance from river mouth: 2.6 Kilometers (1.6 Miles) east; Pre/Post Dam Removal: 6 years post-dam removal; Lat/Long: 48.15008216,-123.53277857; Site Description: This site is medium to shallow depth. Substrate is mainly gravel with some sand, cobble and an occasional boulder and has not changed since dam...
Permanent Site: K1 East Transect; Depth: 6.2 Meters (20.4 Feet); Distance from river mouth: 4.5 Kilometers (2.8 Miles) east; Pre/Post Dam Removal: 6 years post-dam removal; Lat/Long: 48.13592923,-123.5101581; Site Description: This is a shallow site. Sediment is a gravel/sand mixture. Both red (1:29 seconds) and brown seaweed was abundant but this year browns were...
Permanent Site: K1 West Transect; Depth: 5.5 Meters (18.0 Feet); Distance from river mouth: 4.5 Kilometers (2.8 Miles) east; Pre/Post Dam Removal: 6 years post-dam removal; Lat/Long: 48.13592923,-123.51082988; Site Description: This is a shallow site. Sediment is a gravel/sand mixture. Both red (0:20, 0:25 seconds) and brown seaweed was abundant with the browns more...
Permanent Site: F2 West Transect; Depth: 11.1 Meters (36.3 Feet); Distance from river mouth: 1.5 Kilometers (0.9 Miles) east; Pre/Post Dam Removal: 6 years post-dam removal; Lat/Long: 48.15672004,-123.55036603; Site Description: Substrate is mainly a gravel/cobble mixture with an occasional boulder. Seven species of brown seaweed were present. Seaweed was abundant but not...
Olfactory Cues Provide Insight into Lamprey Behavior and Physiology
New research shows how river diversions may change water quality in estuaries.
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.
The U.S. Geological Survey is pleased to announce the selection of Dr. Christian Zimmerman as the new director of their Alaska Science Center in Anchorage, Alaska. Zimmerman succeeds Dr. Mark Shasby who held the position for the past six years.
Changes in rainfall and temperature are predicted to transform wetlands in the Gulf of Mexico and around the world within the century, a new study from the USGS and the University of Texas Rio Grande Valley concludes.
A new study published in PLOS ONE demonstrates that current conservation planning efforts for waterbird habitat in the Central Valley can likely compensate for habitat loss through the middle of the century.
Managing 246 million acres: new science-based tools support Bureau of Land Management’s landscape approach
The U.S. Geological Survey and the Bureau of Land Management today released a collaborative report with new information and tools to support effective management of millions of acres of BLM public lands. The report underscores the value of a landscape approach to management, and shows that the BLM manages some of the largest areas of intact public lands in the west.
Hundreds of articles have been written about the largest volcanic eruption in recorded history, at Indonesia’s Mt. Tambora just over 200 years ago. But for a small group of New England-based researchers, one more Tambora story needed to be told, one related to its catastrophic effects in the Gulf of Maine that may carry lessons for intertwined human-natural systems facing climate change today.
Internship Supports Youth, Tribes, and Fish
"It’s a grand slam for all involved,” said Dawn Childs, USGS Cooperative Fish and Wildlife Research Units. “Recent high school graduates with special needs get real-world experience while helping USGS scientists on projects ranging from grizzly bears and energy to historic documents and bird migration. And a school system gets to successfully train students to enter the workforce."
Caribou, North America’s wild reindeer, have lives apart from their famous role on Christmas Eve. Reindeer and caribou are large, cold-adapted, herding herbivores related to deer, elk and moose.
To learn more about how these arctic antler-bearers spend the other 364 days of the year, we talked to USGS caribou expert Dr. Layne Adams, who has studied these animals for more than 30 years.