Can We Make Wind Power Compatible with Wildlife?
This story is a case study on wind energy and bats in Hawaii that communicates the impact and value of USGS science to people and the environment.See the story
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USGS WERC's Dr. Phil van Mantgem and his collaborators are using plot-based methods to describe change and vulnerability to drought in the forests of the western United States. A focus of this work is the installation and maintenance of large (1 ha) monitoring plots. Many other vegetation monitoring strategies are based on small (0.1 ha) plots, which may not be sufficient to detect changes in...
The Suisun Marsh and Central Valley in California are recognized as some of the world’s most important wetland habitat because it provides critical breeding and wintering habitat for many waterfowl in the Pacific Flyway. Mike Casazza and USGS WERC biologists are providing necessary scientific information to support and evaluate waterfowl populations and habitat management in North America....
This project uses new and existing field data to assess forest restoration treatment effects across broad spatial and temporal scales. WERC's Dr. Phil van Mantgem and project partners are considering the effects of restoration treatments in terms of forest structure, forest stand development, subsequent tree mortality patterns mortality, and how climate influences the success or failure of...
How will increased drought affect forest fire severity? WERC’s Dr. Phil van Mantgem is testing the idea increased drought stress may affect forest fire severity independent of fire intensity. Drought stress prior to fire can affect tree health, potentially resulting in a higher sensitivity to fire-induced damage. Thus, with drought there may be ongoing increases in fire severity (the number of...
The San Francisco Bay is designated as a site of hemispheric importance to shorebirds and annually supports over one million waterbirds. Within the USGS WERC waterbird breeding ecology program, Dr. Josh Ackerman and partners are studying habitat selection, movements, and factors influencing waterbird nest success and chick growth and survival.
The Ridgway’s rail is a federal and state listed endangered species that occurs in wetlands along the Pacific Coast and from the Lower Colorado River drainage to southern Baja California. Three subspecies of Ridgway’s rail are found within the United States: the California Ridgway’s Rail, Yuma Ridgway’s rail, and Light-footed Ridgway’s rail. All three subspecies have declined since 1900 as a...
With sea level rise, how will the coastal habitats of the San Francisco Bay Estuary change over the next 100 years? Mapping and modeling studies by Dr. Karen Thorne, WERC scientists, and partners have produced scenarios for this important coastal ecosystem.
USGS WERC’s Dr. Karen Thorne, her team of reseachers, and her partners are currently taking a local site network approach to describe current and future conditions and projected responses of coastal ecosystems to sea-level rise and other stressors. The Coastal Ecosystem Response to Climate Change (CERCC) program’s goal is to understand how ecosystems vary in their ability to keep up with sea-...
Fuel conditions and fire regimes in western forests and deserts have been altered due to past land management, biological invasions, and recent extreme weather events and climate shifts. These changes have created extreme fire risk to local and regional communities, threatening their economic health related to wildland recreation, forest production, livestock operations, and other uses of...
At the population level, Dr. Amy Vandergast and her team estimates important population parameters such as effective migration (or gene flow) and the number of breeding adults (or effective population size), and quantify the impacts of landscape changes and disturbance on these parameters. This work informs individual species management.
Coastal estuaries that contain marshes and mangroves are currently being reshaped by changing ocean and atmospheric conditions through prolong drought, sea-level rise and increased extreme storm events. Many projected increases in sea-level are expected to result in loss of tidal wetlands and their component species. In addition, changing sediment loads, extreme tide and storm events, and...
Landscape ecology has only a short history as a recognized discipline, but it has transformed our thinking about the interplay between pattern and process. We now understand that many smaller-scale phenomena are driven by spatial processes, such as the proximity of different habitats to one another, the ability of organisms to move through landscapes, and the dynamics of natural disturbance...
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
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.
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.
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
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
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.
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.
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.
Taxonomic characterization of honey bee (Apis mellifera) pollen foraging based on non-overlapping paired-end sequencing of nuclear ribosomal loci
Identifying plant taxa that honey bees (Apis mellifera) forage upon is of great apicultural interest, but traditional methods are labor intensive and may lack resolution. Here we evaluate a high-throughput genetic barcoding approach to characterize trap-collected pollen from multiple North Dakota apiaries across multiple years. We used the...Cornman, Robert S.; Otto, Clint R.; Iwanowicz, Deborah; Pettis, Jeffery S
Functional response of ungulate browsers in disturbed eastern hemlock forests
Ungulate browsing in predator depleted North American landscapes is believed to be causing widespread tree recruitment failures. However, canopy disturbances and variations in ungulate densities are sources of heterogeneity that can buffer ecosystems against herbivory. Relatively little is known about the functional response (the rate of...DeStefano, Stephen
Occupancy estimation for rare species using a spatially-adaptive sampling design
Summary 1. Spatially clustered populations create unique challenges for conservation monitoring programmes. Advances in methodology typically are focused on either the design or the modelling stage of the study but do not involve integration of both. 2. We integrate adaptive cluster sampling and spatial occupancy modelling by developing two models...Pacifici, Krishna; Reich, Brian J.; Dorazio, Robert; Conroy, Michael J.
A framework for decision points to trigger adaptive management actions in long-term incidental take permits
Introduction The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (USFWS) has begun to issue incidental take permits (ITPs) to wind power companies to allow limited take of bird and bat species that are protected under the Endangered Species Act, the Bald and Golden Eagle Protection Act, or the Migratory Bird Treaty Act (Huso and others, 2015). Expected take rates...Dalthorp, Daniel; Huso, Manuela
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.
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.
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.
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