Mission Areas


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Filter Total Items: 496
Photo depicting drought-related tree mortality in Sequoia National Park
Date Published: October 30, 2017
Status: Active

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...

WERC Suisun Marsh Waterfowl
Date Published: October 30, 2017
Status: Active

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....

Contacts: Michael Casazza
WERC looking over lush forested hills, Oregon Caves National Monument
Date Published: October 30, 2017
Status: Active

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...

Date Published: October 30, 2017
Status: Active

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...

WERC Chick and Decoy Birds at the South Bay Salt Pond Restoration Area
Date Published: October 30, 2017
Status: Active

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. 

Contacts: Josh Ackerman
WERC Ridgway’s rail in vegetation
Date Published: October 30, 2017
Status: Active

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...

Contacts: Michael Casazza
WERC researcher conducting elevation surveys in San Pablo Bay National Wildlife Refuge
Date Published: October 30, 2017
Status: Active

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.

Contacts: Karen Thorne
WERC Scientist conducting elevation surveys in a salt marsh
Date Published: October 30, 2017
Status: Active

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-...

Contacts: Karen Thorne
Wildfire in the Mid-Elevation Mojave Desert
Date Published: October 30, 2017
Status: Active

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...

Contacts: Matthew Brooks
WERC lizard
Date Published: October 30, 2017

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.

Contacts: Amy Vandergast
WERC technician deploying water level logger
Date Published: October 30, 2017
Status: Active

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...

Contacts: Karen Thorne
Date Published: October 12, 2017
Status: Active

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...

Contacts: Jason B Dunham
Filter Total Items: 566
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.

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.

Year Published: 2015

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
Cornman, R Scott; Otto, Clint RV; Iwanowicz, Deborah; Pettis, Jeffery S. Taxonomic Characterization of Honey Bee (Apis mellifera) Pollen Foraging Based on Non-Overlapping Paired-End Sequencing of Nuclear Ribosomal Loci. PLoS One 10.12: e0145365

Year Published: 2015

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

Year Published: 2015

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.
Pacifici, K., Reich, B.J., Dorazio, R.M., and Conroy, M.J., 2015, Occupancy estimation for rare species using a spatially-adaptive sampling design: Methods in Ecology and Evolution, Early View, http://dx.doi.org/10.1111/2041-210X.12499.

Year Published: 2015

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
Dalthorp, Daniel, and Huso, Manuela, 2015, A framework for decision points to trigger adaptive management actions in long-term incidental take permits: U.S. Geological Survey Open-File Report 2015-1227, 88 p., http://dx.doi.org/10.3133/ofr20151227.

Filter Total Items: 500
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.
2016 (approx.)
This video showcases the latest polar bear point-of-view footage to date along with an interview of the research scientist who is responsible for the project. Released in conjunction with a new scientific study led by the USGS.
Frosted flatwoods salamander
2016 (approx.)
Frosted flatwoods salamander in St. Marks National Wildlife Refuge, Florida
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...
Beached boats and bare trees in Hurricane Hole
2016 (approx.)
Boat owners sought protection for their vessels in sheltered Hurricane Hole, but Hurricane Irma sunk and beached many boats, likely damaging corals. Photo: Caroline Rogers, USGS, 2017
Filter Total Items: 292
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. 

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. 

Aerial view of the caldera of Mt Tambora, island of Sumbawa, Indonesia.
January 18, 2017

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.