Mission Areas

Ecosystems

Mission Areas L2 Landing Page Tabs

Filter Total Items: 455
Female mallard & young
Date Published: March 14, 2017

The Challenge: The genomic revolution is giving wildlife biologists new tools to assess the role of wildlife in spreading diseases that affect human populations.   Peptide arrays are a high throughput technology that gives unprecedented breadth and depth of information about the immune system.  We are using peptide arrays to assess the immune responses of Chesapeake Bay waterfowl to avian...

Staging HY ROSTs still need parental care
Date Published: March 14, 2017

The Challenge: Terns in coastal areas of the Northeastern US likely will be impacted by construction and operation of offshore wind turbines. The “Cape Cod & Islands” (CCMA) area of Massachusetts is a particularly important area for the endangered Northwest Atlantic Roseate Tern (ROST) population as most ROSTs from throughout the breeding range (Nova Scotia to Long Island, New York)...

An image of an Ephemeroptera Heptageniidae Epeorus longimanuis.
Date Published: February 2, 2017

Aquatic invertebrates are a key component of freshwater ecosystems, and an understanding of aquatic invertebrate taxonomy is central to freshwater science. The U.S. Geological Survey Aquatic Experimental Lab (AXL) at the Fort Collins Science Center has developed the North American Aquatic Macroinvertebrate Digital Reference Collection (NAAMDRC) to provide users with a graphic tool to aid in...

Mallard (Anarhynchos platus)
Date Published: February 2, 2017

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...

Male Ruddy duck
Date Published: February 2, 2017

The Challenge: The susceptibility and pathogenesis of highly pathogenic avian influenza virus (HPAI) has not been characterized in numerous duck species, especially diving ducks (genera Melanitta, Aythya, and Oxyura), some of which migrate across the continental US. The few studies available (on Tufted duck, Aythya fuligula) suggest that they may shed high amounts of virus, but it is unclear...

Poplar Island Environmental Restoration Project
Date Published: February 2, 2017

The Challenge: For several decades, the US Army Corps of Engineers, along with numerous state and federal partners, have been creating and restoring islands with dredged materials from navigation channels in the Bay. Natural resources management goals have guided restoration plans for these islands since the mid 1990’s. The USGS Patuxent Wildlife Research Center has been the only USGS science...

Research Team Banding chicks on Poplar Island
Date Published: February 2, 2017

The Challenge: Concern has been raised over productivity of two important tern species that have colonized Poplar Island Environmental Restoration Project (PIERP): the Maryland state-listed Least Tern (Sternula antillarum) and Common Tern (Sterna hirundo). Over the 14 year monitoring period at PIERP (beginning 2002), hatching and fledging success of these species has been variable, believed to...

A hardened shoreline (rip-rap revetment)
Date Published: February 2, 2017

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...

American black duck
Date Published: February 2, 2017

The Challenge: Disease risk modeling can be an important tool for identifying areas of high transmission risk within and between animal populations, allowing for strategic allocation of limited resources for disease surveillance and prevention. Acquiring a spatial understanding of the distributions of high risk populations is a critical first step in developing predictive disease transmission...

Tracking migratory movements with satellite telemetry.
Date Published: February 2, 2017

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...

Mallard
Date Published: February 2, 2017

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...

Unmanned Aerial Vehicle (Drone)
Date Published: February 1, 2017

The Challenge: Threats such as habitat loss, increased severity of storm events, and emerging diseases are affecting wildlife populations, with particular concern for threatened and migratory species. Surveys for measuring populations and breeding productivity for various species have been utilized for many years; however, they can be intrusive leading to aggressive behavior of adults or even...

Filter Total Items: 544
Year Published: 2015

Toward a mechanistic understanding of human-induced rapid environmental change: A case study linking energy development, avian nest predation, and predators

Demographic consequences of human-induced rapid environmental change (HIREC) have been widely documented for many populations. The mechanisms underlying such patterns, however, are rarely investigated and yet are critical to understand for effective conservation and management. We investigated the mechanisms underlying reduced avian nest survival...

Hethcoat, Matthew G.; Chalfoun, Anna D.

Year Published: 2015

Incorporating microbial dormancy dynamics into soil decomposition models to improve quantification of soil carbon dynamics of northern temperate forests

Soil carbon dynamics of terrestrial ecosystems play a significant role in the global carbon cycle. Microbial-based decomposition models have seen much growth recently for quantifying this role, yet dormancy as a common strategy used by microorganisms has not usually been represented and tested in these models against field observations. Here we...

He, Yujie; Yang, Jinyan; Zhuang, Qianlai; Harden, Jennifer W.; McGuire, A. David; Liu, Yaling; Wang, Gangsheng; Gu, Lianhong

Year Published: 2015

Depth of artificial Burrowing Owl burrows affects thermal suitability and occupancy

Many organizations have installed artificial burrows to help bolster local Burrowing Owl (Athene cunicularia) populations. However, occupancy probability and reproductive success in artificial burrows varies within and among burrow installations. We evaluated the possibility that depth below ground might explain differences in occupancy...

Nadeau, Christopher P.; Conway, Courtney J.; Rathbun, Nathan

Year Published: 2015

Evaluation of a waistband for attaching external radiotransmitters to anurans

Radiotelemetry provides fine-scale temporal and spatial information about an individual's movements and habitat use; however, its use for monitoring amphibians has been restricted by transmitter mass and lack of suitable attachment techniques. We describe a novel waistband for attaching external radiotransmitters to anurans and evaluate the...

Groff, Luke A.; Pitt, Amber L.; Baldwin, Robert F.; Calhoun, Aram J.K.; Loftin, Cyndy

Year Published: 2015

Influence of habitat and intrinsic characteristics on survival of neonatal pronghorn

Increased understanding of the influence of habitat (e.g., composition, patch size) and intrinsic (e.g., age, birth mass) factors on survival of neonatal pronghorn (Antilocapra americana) is a prerequisite to successful management programs, particularly as they relate to population dynamics and the role of population models in adaptive species...

Jacques, Christopher N.; Jenks, Jonathan A.; Grovenburg, Troy W.; Klaver, Robert W.

Year Published: 2015

Bioelectrical impedance analysis: A new tool for assessing fish condition

Bioelectrical impedance analysis (BIA) is commonly used in human health and nutrition fields but has only recently been considered as a potential tool for assessing fish condition. Once BIA is calibrated, it estimates fat/moisture levels and energy content without the need to kill fish. Despite the promise held by BIA, published studies have been...

Hartman, Kyle J.; Margraf, F. Joseph; Hafs, Andrew W.; Cox, M. Keith

Year Published: 2015

Crocodylus acutus (American Crocodile). Long distance juvenile movement

Crocodylus acutus (American Crocodile) is the most widely distributed New World crocodilian species with its range extending from Peru in the south to the southern tip of peninsular Florida in the north. Crocodylus acutus occupies primarily coastal brackish water habitat, however it also occurs in freshwater to hypersaline habitats (Thorbjarnarson...

Crespo, Rafael; Beauchamp, Jeffrey S.; Mazzotti, Frank; Cherkiss, Michael S.
Crespo, R., Beauchamp, J., Mazzotti, F., and Cherkiss, M.S., 2015, Crocodylus acutus (American Crocodile). Long distance juvenile movement: Herpetological Review, v. 46, no. 4, p. 623-624.

Year Published: 2015

Sympatric cattle grazing and desert bighorn sheep foraging

Foraging behavior affects animal fitness and is largely dictated by the resources available to an animal. Understanding factors that affect forage resources is important for conservation and management of wildlife. Cattle sympatry is proposed to limit desert bighorn population performance, but few studies have quantified the effect of cattle...

Garrison, Kyle R.; Cain, James W.; Rominger, Eric M.; Goldstein, Elise J.

Year Published: 2015

Assessing gull abundance and food availability in urban parking lots

Feeding birds is a common activity throughout the world; yet, little is known about the extent of feeding gulls in urban areas. We monitored 8 parking lots in central Massachusetts, USA, during the fall and winter of 2011 to 2013 in 4 monitoring sessions to document the number of gulls present, the frequency of human–gull feeding...

Clark, Daniel E.; Whitney, Jillian J.; MacKenzie, Kenneth G.; Koenen, Kiana K. G.; DeStefano, Stephen

Year Published: 2015

First satellite tracks of the Endangered black-capped petrel

The black-capped petrel Pterodroma hasitata is an endangered seabird with fewer than 2000 breeding pairs restricted to a few breeding sites in Haiti and the Dominican Republic. To date, use areas at sea have been determined entirely from vessel-based surveys and opportunistic sightings and, as such, spatial and temporal gaps in our...

Jodice, Patrick G.R.; Ronconi, Robert A.; Rupp, Ernst; Wallace, George E.; Satgé, Yvan

Year Published: 2015

Effects of drought and fire on bird communities of the Kofa National Wildlife Refuge, Arizona

Executive Summary The U.S. Government created the Kofa National Wildlife Refuge (Kofa NWR) in 1939 in response to a citizen campaign to improve desert bighorn sheep populations in Arizona. The Kofa NWR is mountainous and remote, and its management by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (FWS) keeps anthropogenic disturbance levels low. As such,...

McCreedy, Chris; van Riper, Charles; Esque, Todd C.; Darrah, Abigail J.
McCreedy, C., van Riper, C., III, Esque, T.C., and Darrah, A.J., 2015, Effects of drought and fire on bird communities of the Kofa National Wildlife Refuge, Arizona: U.S. Geological Survey Open-File Report 2015–1240, 34 p., http://dx.doi.org/10.3133/ofr20151240.

Year Published: 2015

Water quality trends in the Blackwater River watershed, West Virginia

An understanding of historic and current water quality is needed to manage and improve aquatic communities within the Blackwater River watershed, WV. The Blackwater River, which historically offered an excellent Salvelinus fontinalis (Brook Trout) fishery, has been affected by logging, coal mining, use of off-road vehicles, and land...

Smith, Jessica; Welsh, Stuart A.; Anderson, James T.; Fortney, Ronald H.

Filter Total Items: 453
Frosted flatwoods salamander
2016 (approx.)
Frosted flatwoods salamander in St. Marks National Wildlife Refuge, Florida
American Alligator
2016 (approx.)
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 wet season because...
Sierran Treefrog
2016 (approx.)
Amphibians’ permeable skin makes them incredibly sensitive to changes in their environment. Scientists and conservationists alike are using them as “sentinel species” that could provide early warnings of ecosystem change and stress affecting them and other organisms. Next time you are out, stop and listen. Do you hear them?
Transmitters are programmed to acquire an alligator location once every three hours from April to the end of September each year
2016 (approx.)
Transmitters are programmed to acquire an alligator location once every three hours from April to the end of September each year.
Testing for Bsal
2016 (approx.)
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.
Alligator transmitter installation and recovery
2016 (approx.)
Alligator transmitter installation and recovery. Pictured: Abby Lawson, Thomas Rainwater, John Lane (Wofford College), and Erin Weeks (South Carolina Department of Natural Resources).
Dissected bat guano pellet showing antennae, eyes, and body fragments of midges.
2016 (approx.)
Dissected guano pellet showing antennae, eyes, and body fragments of midges.
WorldCat holdings, OCLC, USGS Pubs Warehouse, Public Domain, Biodiversity Heritage Library
December 6, 2016
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, 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
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, urbanization, species connectivity
October 10, 2016
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 portable, rapid and...
Filter Total Items: 293
Duck with various brown colored feathers
March 15, 2017

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.

Image Placeholder
March 13, 2017

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.

Chris Huber
March 10, 2017

On March 7, 2017, economist Chris Huber presented at the High Altitude Re-vegetation Workshop and Central Rockies Chapter of the Society for Ecological Restoration 2017 Conference in Fort Collins, Colorado. 

Scientist collecting samples in the Arctic Coastal Plain.
March 7, 2017

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. 

A small bird with distinctive orange-brown feathers around its neck and blue feathers on head, sitting on a small shrub
March 2, 2017

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.

Big Walnut Creek at Sunbury during a low flow period looking downstream
March 2, 2017

A new study published in Global Change Biology this week compares analytical frameworks for conducting ecological climate change impact assessments.

Map of data collection sites from the 2015 Western US drought survey
March 2, 2017

On Thursday, February 23, 2017 Lance Everette (Fort Collins Science Center) and John Faundeen (EROS Data Center) presented an overview of the USGS Legacy Data Inventory and Reporting System (LDIRS) and the challenges of preserving USGS legacy data.

Image Placeholder
February 23, 2017

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.

Spring 2017 Advances Very Early in Much of the USA
February 23, 2017

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.