Mission Areas L2 Landing Page Tabs
The Ecosystems Mission Area provides impartial science informaiton 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.
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.
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...
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.
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.
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...
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.
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.
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...
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...
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...
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...
USGS research has a critical role in providing scientific information to improve the understanding and management of the Nation’s largest estuary: the Chesapeake Bay ecosystem. The 64,000-square-mile watershed supports over 3,600 species of fish, wildlife, and plants and provides spawning grounds for many ecologically and economically important species including striped bass and blue crabs....
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
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.
List of species affected by H5N1 avian influenza (excel file).
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.
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.
The California Sea Otter Stranding Network is part of the USGS effort to monitor southern sea otters (Enhydra lutris nereis) and provide data to the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service. Since 1985, stranded otters from throughout their California coastal range have been collected and analyzed to inform resource management on recovery and conservation of the species.
This guide to the vascular plants of Louisiana includes a database of plant characters, a search engine and plant images. Photographs include images of leaves, fruit, flower, stem, bark and other key identification features. Information about plants can be accessed by searching plant lists either by scientific name or common name.
Suisun Marsh is a critical habitat for wintering and breeding waterbirds in California. USGS is working with the California DWR to examine the trends in bird decline and to assess the habitat factors driving long-term survival of waterfowl, rails, and other birds in this important area.
The data archive contains the aerial photographs and channel delineations used in our analysis. The images have been geo-referenced to the 1995 digital orthophoto quarter quadrangles as described by Miller and Friedman (2009). The channel delineations for all photo years (including 2003) and the delineation of the outer flood-plain boundary are stored as shapefiles.
Atypical Feeding Behavior of Long-tailed Ducks in the Wake of a Commercial Fishing Boat while Clamming
Data represents analyses of gizzard and gullet (esophagus and proventriculus) of nine ducks using traditional techniques
Multiple search functions: State, major drainage area (HUC2), drainage area (HUC6), drainage area (HUC8), Zebra Mussel Collections, and fact sheets.
The Cooperative Research Unit mission is our hallmark: meeting the actionable science needs of our cooperators, providing them technical guidance and assistance in interpreting and applying new advances in science, and developing the future workforce through graduate education and mentoring.
Multiple large scale solar, wind, and geothermal energy development projects are currently proposed across the Mojave and Sonoran deserts of the southwestern U.S., and these development needs are likely to continue or increase into the future. Agencies tasked with managing biological resources must understand the potential impacts in order to select appropriate sites and to mitigate effects.
Extinct Taxa in States/Provinces of North America (2012)
Extinct Taxa in Ecoregions of North America (2012)
Land treatment planning tool
Land managers make decisions regarding restoration and rehabilitation actions that influence landscapes and ecosystems. Many of these decisions involve soil and vegetation manipulations, often known as land treatments. Historically, treatments were planned on a case by case basis with decisions derived from personal experience of past successes or...Pilliod, David S.; Welty, Justing L.; Jeffries, Michelle I. ; Schueck, Linda S.; Zarriello, Thomas J.
Isolation by distance versus landscape resistance: Understanding dominant patterns of genetic structure in Northern Spotted Owls (Strix occidentalis caurina)
Landscape genetics investigations examine how the availability and configuration of habitat influence genetic structure of plants and animals. We used landscape genetics to evaluate the role that forest connectivity plays in determining genetic structure of the federally-threatened Northern Spotted Owl (Strix occidentalis caurina) using genotypes...Miller, Mark P.; Davis, Raymond J.; Forsman, Eric D.; Mullins, Thomas D.; Haig, Susan M.
Snowmelt timing regulates community composition, phenology, and physiological performance of alpine plants
The spatial patterning of alpine plant communities is strongly influenced by the variation in physical factors such as temperature and moisture, which are strongly affected by snow depth and snowmelt patterns. Earlier snowmelt timing and greater soil-moisture limitations may favor wide-ranging species adapted to a broader set of ecohydrological...Winkler, Daniel E.; Butz, Ramona J.; Germino, Matthew J.; Reinhardt, Keith; Kueppers, Lara M.
U.S. Geological Survey response to white-nose syndrome in bats
OverviewSince its discovery in 2007, the fungal disease known as white-nose syndrome (WNS) has killed more than six million bats. Ten of 47 bat species have been affected by WNS across 32 States and 5 Canadian Provinces. The cold-growing fungus (Pseudogymnoascus destructans) that causes WNS infects skin covering the muzzle, ears, and wings of...Hopkins, M. Camille ; Soileau, Suzanna C.
Conservation threats and priorities for raptors across Asia
With long coastlines and some of the world’s most important rivers, mountain ranges, high-altitude plateaus, and islands, Asia is the largest and most populous continent in the world (Lyde 1904; Spencer 1954; Population Reference Bureau 2016). Asia supports all major terrestrial ecosystems and all major climatic types (Galloway et al. 1998;...Conception, Camille B.; Bildstein, Keith L.; Collar, Nigel J.; Katzner, Todd
Post-fledging movements and habitat associations of White-tailed Sea Eagles (Haliaeetus albicilla) in Central Asia
Behavior of young birds can have important consequences for population dynamics. We investigated the autumnal post-fledging movements of 3 White-tailed Sea Eagles (Haliaeetus albicilla) hatched in Kazakhstan. All 3 eagles traveled south, flying on average 25–108 km/d. Movement was nonrandom, with eagles generally traveling near mosaics of forest,...Bragin, Evgeny A.; Poessel, Sharon; Lanzone, Michael J.; Katzner, Todd
Assessing the effectiveness of riparian restoration projects using Landsat and precipitation data from the cloud-computing application ClimateEngine.org
Riparian vegetation along streams provides a suite of ecosystem services in rangelands and thus is the target of restoration when degraded by over-grazing, erosion, incision, or other disturbances. Assessments of restoration effectiveness depend on defensible monitoring data, which can be both expensive and difficult to collect. We present a...Hausner, Mark B.; Huntington, Justin L.; Nash, Caroline; Morton, Charles; McEvoy, Daniel J.; Pilliod, David S.; Hegewisch, Katherine C.; Daudert, Britta; Abatzoglou, John T.; Grant, Gordon E.
Post-spring migration colony-site prospecting by Roseate Terns (Sterna dougallii)
We recorded banded Roseate Terns (Sterna dougallii) and unbanded individuals mated to banded individuals in May and the first third of June in 2001 and 2002 to quantify post spring migration prospecting by this species at Falkner Island, Connecticut, USA. In 2001, more than one quarter: 34/125 (27.2%) of those observed by 19 May and 38/150 (25.3...Spendelow, Jeffrey A.; Eichenwald, Adam J.
Bat community response to silvicultural treatments in bottomland hardwood forests managed for wildlife in the Mississippi Alluvial Valley
Silvicultural treatments (e.g., selective timber harvests) that are prescribed to promote wildlife habitat are intended to alter the physical structure of forests to achieve conditions deemed beneficial for wildlife. Such treatments have been advocated for management of bottomland hardwood forests on public conservation lands in the Mississippi...Ketzler, Loraine P.; Comer, Christopher E.; Twedt, Daniel J.
On the reliability of N‐mixture models for count data
N‐mixture models describe count data replicated in time and across sites in terms of abundance N and detectability p. They are popular because they allow inference about N while controlling for factors that influence p without the need for marking animals. Using a capture–recapture perspective, we show that the loss of information that results...Barker, Richard J.; Schofield, Matthew J.; Link, William A.; Sauer, John R.
Variation in inbreeding rates across the range of Northern Spotted Owls (Strix occidentalis caurina): Insights from over 30 years of monitoring data
Inbreeding has been difficult to quantify in wild populations because of incomplete parentage information. We applied and extended a recently developed framework for addressing this problem to infer inbreeding rates in Northern Spotted Owls (Strix occidentalis caurina) across the Pacific Northwest, USA. Using pedigrees from 14,187 Northern Spotted...Miller, Mark P.; Haig, Susan M.; Forsman, Eric D.; Anthony, Robert G.; Diller, Lowell; Dugger, Katie M.; Franklin, Alan B.; Fleming, Tracy L.; Gremel, Scott; Lesmeister, Damon B.; Higley, Mark; Herter, Dale R.; Sovern, Stan G
On the robustness of N‐mixture models
N‐mixture models provide an appealing alternative to mark–recapture models, in that they allow for estimation of detection probability and population size from count data, without requiring that individual animals be identified. There is, however, a cost to using the N‐mixture models: inference is very sensitive to the model's assumptions. We...Link, William A.; Schofield, Matthew R.; Barker, Richard J.; Sauer, John R.
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...
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
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.
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.
The arrows in this image point to mouths of individual corallimorphs, which are a type of invasive anemone that typically thrives in coral reefs that have been degraded by environmental or man-made disturbances. Each corallimorph mouth is surrounded by a corona of tentacles.
Coral reefs are prone to phase shifts where they quickly transition from coral-dominated to...
When it comes to collecting data, sometimes scientists have to look beneath the surface. Here, USGS scientists count and measure sea urchins to better understand the species' demographics off the coast of Oahu, Hawaii. This information will help managers best respond to urchin die-offs, should they occur in the future.
Coral reefs are prone to phase shifts where they quickly transition from coral-dominated to a uniformity of other organisms, typically algae. The Palmyra Atoll National Wildlife Refuge in the Central Pacific is a unique case where a transition from corals to corallimorphs occurred. Corallimorphs are a type of invasive...
Image from a remote camera placed in a golden eagle nest in the Mojave Desert. The parent is feed the chick a snake.
New research has revealed significant changes to Alaska’s landscape in recent decades
The Blackstone River in Rhode Island is where one of the Nation’s first fish passages was built back in 1714 to help fish navigate past manmade obstructions so they could complete their instinctual migration cycles.
Now through late July, 2018, U.S. Geological Survey scientists will conduct fieldwork on public lands in Phillips and Valley counties near Malta and Glasgow, Montana, as part of a grassland bird project.
Invasions by exotic annual grasses, most notably cheatgrass and medusahead, are unambiguous threats to rangelands in the western United States, diminishing livestock productivity and increasing wildfire activity.
Incorporation of concepts from landscape ecology into understanding and managing riverine ecosystems has become widely known as riverscape ecology.
Little is known about how lizards and snakes may respond to changes in habitat from climate, invasive species, fire, roads, and natural resource management.
Biological nitrogen fixation is the largest source of the essential nutrient nitrogen that feeds terrestrial ecosystems worldwide.
A population of exotic invasive Cuban treefrogs has been discovered in New Orleans, more than 430 miles (700 kilometers) from the nearest known population in Florida, making this the first known breeding population in the mainland United States outside that state, reports a new study by the U.S. Geological Survey.
Scroll down to hear and download calls of Cuban treefrogs and two native treefrogs.
In the featured photo, WERC scientists search for potential nesting habitat of seabirds like the Ashy Storm-Petrel (Oceanodroma homochroa) on False Klamath Rock off the coast of California.
Research Ecologist Dan Fagre is the recipient of the 2017 Eugene M. Shoemaker Award for Lifetime Achievement in Communications
Honolulu, Hawaii – Control efforts such as the removal of shipwrecks and application of chlorine may help mitigate the damaging effects of corallimorph, which is a type of invasive anemone, on valuable coral reefs in the Central Pacific Ocean, according to a new U.S. Geological Survey study.
Plant functional groups have contrasting effects on soil water availability by affecting interception, uptake, and transpiration.