Mission Areas

Ecosystems

Mission Areas L2 Landing Page Tabs

Filter Total Items: 421
Survival Probability
December 19, 2016

The Challenge: Research goals of this project are to develop models, statistical methods, sampling strategies and tools for inference about animal population status from survey data. Survey data are always subject to a number of observation processes that induce bias and error. In particular, inferences are based on spatial sampling – we can only ever sample a subset...

Spatial Capture-Recapture by Royle,Chandler, Sollmann, & Gardner
December 19, 2016

The Challenge: For decades, capture-recapture methods have been the cornerstone of ecological statistics as applied to population biology.  While capture-recapture has become the standard sampling and analytical framework for the study of population processes (Williams, Nichols & Conroy 2002) it has advanced independent of and remained unconnected to the spatial structure of the...

Weddell seal pup and mom
December 19, 2016

The Challenge: Much of wildlife research consists of the description of variation in data. Some of the variation results from spatial and temporal change in populations, while some results from biologically irrelevant sampling variation induced by the process of data collection. Distinguishing relevant from irrelevant variation is the first task of statistical analysis, but...

Dwarf crocodiles, Osteolaemus tetraspis
December 19, 2016

The Challenge: Wildlife science and management are guided by data, and it is unquestionably the case that the greatest success occurs when good data are analyzed by good statistical methods....

Feral cat in trap.
December 19, 2016

The Challenge: Free-roaming cats (Felis catus) are nonnative predators of small mammals, songbirds and gamebirds, reptiles, amphibians, and insects. They are also competitors of native predators and vectors for diseases to human and wildlife.  The US Fish and Wildlife Service is authorized to remove cats from National Wildlife Refuges. Presently cat trapping on Refuge lands is conducted...

USGS-PWRC population modeling software web-page
December 14, 2016

Biologists at USGS Patuxent, as well as cooperating agencies are constantly looking for new ways of answering questions about the status of animal populations and how animal populations change over time. To address these questions, data are collected on captures and or sightings of animals which can be used to estimate parameters which affect the population using legacy software. Over time,...

Boulder glacier in 1913.
December 12, 2016

Natural resource agencies are challenged not only by climate change impacts on terrestrial and marine resources, but also by related effects on human communities that depend on these lands and waters. These effects include changes in economic activity, subsistence practices, demographic trends, human health, recreation, infrastructure, and community resilience. While there are many policy...

Multi-colored flowers in the Great Basin.
December 12, 2016

The Department of Interior (DOI) produces annual estimates of the economic contributions of DOI programs, activities, and services. USGS economists contribute to the annual analysis, and the USGS Information Science Branch has developed an interactive data visualization to display results: https://my.usgs.gov/doidv/.

Spotted salamanders,  Ambystoma maculatum
December 9, 2016

Currently, 90 amphibian species are recognized in the Northeast, including 59 species in the Order Caudata (salamanders) and 31 species in the Order Anura (frogs and toads). Almost half of the amphibians in the Northeast are salamanders within the family Plethodontidae. Amphibians are found in all physiographic regions of the Northeast, from sea level to the heights of the Appalachian,...

Shenandoah Salamander (Plethodon shenandoah)
December 9, 2016

The Challenge:  In many National Parks organisms at high elevation are severely threatened and may be sensitive to changes in temperature and moisture gradients in the Appalachians, which may result in species extirpation in high elevation habitats. Many species are specifically adapted to the unusual conditions typical of high elevation sites; risks of...

Bee
December 8, 2016

There is a lack of knowledge and understanding of how widespread use of pesticides may affect bees as they move across a diverse agricultural landscape. Studies have shown there are impacts to honey bees due to exposure to pesticides including neonicotinoid insecticides and fungicides, but the effects of these compounds on native pollinators are largely unknown....

North American Amphibian Monitoring Program (NAAMP)
December 8, 2016

The North American Amphibian Monitoring Program (NAAMP) was a collaborative citizen science effort between the US Geological Survey (USGS) and 26 partners (state agencies, universities, and nonprofit organizations) for monitoring calling amphibian populations over much of the eastern and central United States.  Initiated in 1997, in response to needs set forth by the Declining Amphibian...

Filter Total Items: 551
Year Published: 2015

Population trends and survival of nesting green sea turtles Chelonia mydas on Aves Island, Venezuela

Long-term demographic data are valuable for assessing the effect of anthropogenic impacts on endangered species and evaluating recovery programs. Using a 2-state open robust design model, we analyzed mark-recapture data from green turtles Chelonia mydas sighted between 1979 and 2009 on Aves Island, Venezuela, a rookery heavily impacted...

Garcia-Cruz, Marco A.; Lampo, Margarita; Peñaloza, Claudia L.; Kendall, William; Solé, Genaro; Rodriguez-Clark, Kathryn M.

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.; 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; Anderson, James T.; Fortney, Ronald H.

Year Published: 2015

Detection probabilities of electrofishing, hoop nets, and benthic trawls for fishes in two western North American rivers

Research comparing different sampling techniques helps improve the efficiency and efficacy of sampling efforts. We compared the effectiveness of three sampling techniques (small-mesh hoop nets, benthic trawls, boat-mounted electrofishing) for 30 species in the Green (WY, USA) and Kootenai (ID, USA) rivers by estimating conditional detection...

Smith, Christopher D.; Quist, Michael C.; Hardy, Ryan S.

Filter Total Items: 433
Photo of USGS scientist Jayne Belnap examining instrumentation to measure photosynthetic rates of biocrusts.
September 29, 2016
USGS scientist Jayne Belnap examines instrumentation to measure photosynthetic rates of biocrusts. Arid and semiarid ecosystems are expected to experience significant changes in temperature and precipitation patterns, which may affect soil organisms in ways that cause surfaces to become lighter in color and thus reflect more sunlight, according to a new USGS study.
Photo of Biocrust outdoor testing plots
September 26, 2016
USGS scientists created outdoor testing plots where large squares of biocrusts were exposed to different warming and precipitation factors over time. Researchers not only looked at how the biocrusts responded, but also measured the amount of energy that the different biocrust communities reflected back into the atmosphere relative to how much energy came in from the sun. Arid and semiarid...
Photo of biocrust outdoor testing plots.
September 26, 2016
USGS scientists created outdoor testing plots where large squares of biocrusts were exposed to different warming and precipitation factors over time. Researchers not only looked at how the biocrusts responded, but also measured the amount of energy that the different biocrust communities reflected back into the atmosphere relative to how much energy came in from the sun. Arid and semiarid...
Photo of outdoor testing plots where biocrusts were exposed to different warming and precipitation factors over time.
September 26, 2016
USGS scientists created outdoor testing plots where large squares of biocrusts were exposed to different warming and precipitation factors over time. Researchers not only looked at how the biocrusts responded, but also measured the amount of energy that the different biocrust communities reflected back into the atmosphere relative to how much energy came in from the sun. Arid and semiarid...
Photo of USGS scientist Sasha Reed studying outdoor biocrust testing sites
September 26, 2016
USGS scientist Sasha Reed studies sites where different climate conditions are being mimicked to determine effect on biocrusts. Arid and semiarid ecosystems are expected to experience significant changes in temperature and precipitation patterns, which may affect soil organisms in ways that cause surfaces to become lighter in color and thus reflect more sunlight, according to a new USGS study.
2016 (approx.)
Watch as the USGS Hammond Bay Biological Station water tank and pump house are constructed from the ground up! This short video features time lapse photography of the 1-million gallon water tank and pump house constructed to supply water to a state-of-the-art aquatic science laboratory. Laboratory construction will occur over the next several years and will also be chronicled with time lapse...
August 26, 2016
This ridiculously cute video of baby Harlequin Ducks (Histrionicus histrionicus) shows their first day outside the egg (about 20 hours old). Scientists at Patuxent Wildlife Research Center are training ducks to respond to sounds — just like a hearing test given to kids during elementary school — to learn more about their ability to hear underwater. This will inform the design of effective...
Horned Puffin, one of the species affected by a recent seabird die-off in the Pribilof Islands, AK
August 26, 2016
Horned Puffin, one of the species affected by a recent seabird die-off in the Pribilof Islands, AK. Near Chisik Island in Lower Cook Inlet, Alaska
August 25, 2016
Tarantula hawk wasps sting and paralyze tarantulas to feed their young. USGS Ecologist Todd Esque captured this video of a tarantula hawk wasp dragging a tarantula through the desert in Mexico.
August 25, 2016
Permanent Site: E2 West Transect; Depth: 14.6 Meters (47.8 Feet); Distance from river mouth: 0.9 Kilometers (0.5 Miles) east; Pre/Post Dam Removal: 5 years post-dam removal; Lat/Long: 48.15653002, -123.56197605; Site Description: This is one of our deeper sites. Substrate is mainly gravel/cobble with scattered boulders. A few small red and brown seaweeds, mainly acid kelp Desmarestia spp. (0:25,...
August 25, 2016
Cell phone video of USGS biologist Diego Johnson releasing a golden eagle that had just been fitted with a tracking device. The work is informing land managers on eagle movements in the southwest, an area of expanding renewable energy development.
Filter Total Items: 255
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.

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.

Sagebrush-steppe landscapes have changed in fundamental ways over the past 100 years.
February 14, 2017

The sagebrush ecosystem in the western U.S is one of the largest ecosystems in North America, but it is also threatened from wildfire and invasive plants. “Restoration of these unique ecosystems will help sustain wildlife and livelihoods throughout the West," said David Pyke, the USGS ecologist and lead author of the final installment of a three-part sagebrush restoration handbook. 

Issue5.1January2017Thumb
February 13, 2017

Olfactory Cues Provide Insight into Lamprey Behavior and Physiology

The Caernarvon Freshwater Diversion structure, located at the head of Breton Sound Estuary, became operational in 1992.
February 8, 2017

New research shows how river diversions may change water quality in estuaries. 

Map of California Ridgway’s rails habitat
February 2, 2017

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.

Dr. Christian Zimmerman, USGS Alaska Science Center Director
February 1, 2017

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.

Wading birds feed near wooden posts marking a research site in a Louisiana salt marsh
January 25, 2017

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.

Clark's Grebe at Thermalito Afterbay, CA
January 24, 2017

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.

Dubois Badlands Wilderness Study Area, Wyoming
January 19, 2017

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.