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...
Desert landscapes are rapidly changing due to increases in invasive plant species, frequency of wildfires, urban and energy development, recreational use, military training, and climate variation. Dr. Todd Esque, USGS researchers, and collaborators are working together to investigate these changes and provide managers with key information that can be used to manage natural resources more...
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
Assessment of model estimates of land-atmosphere CO2 exchange across northern Eurasia
A warming climate is altering land-atmosphere exchanges of carbon, with a potential for increased vegetation productivity as well as the mobilization of permafrost soil carbon stores. Here we investigate land-atmosphere carbon dioxide (CO2) cycling through analysis of net ecosystem productivity (NEP) and its component fluxes of gross primary...Rawlins, M.A.; McGuire, A.D.; Kimball, J.S.; Dass, P.; Lawrence, D.; Burke, E.; Chen, X.; Delire, C.; Koven, C.; MacDougall, A.; Peng, S.; Rinke, A.; Saito, K.; Zhang, W.; Alkama, R.; Bohn, T. J.; Ciais, P.; Decharme, B.; Gouttevin, I.; Hajima, T.; Ji, D.; Krinner, G.; Lettenmaier, D.P.; Miller, P.; Moore, J.C.; Smith, B.; Sueyoshi, T.
Fire effects on aquatic ecosystems: an assessment of the current state of the science
Fire is a prevalent feature of many landscapes and has numerous and complex effects on geological, hydrological, ecological, and economic systems. In some regions, the frequency and intensity of wildfire have increased in recent years and are projected to escalate with predicted climatic and landuse changes. In addition, prescribed burns continue...Rebecca J. Bixby; Scott D. Cooper; Gresswell, Bob; Lee E. Brown; Clifford N. Dahm; Kathleen A. Dwire
Predicting spatial distribution of postfire debris flows and potential consequences for native trout in headwater streams
Habitat fragmentation and degradation and invasion of nonnative species have restricted the distribution of native trout. Many trout populations are limited to headwater streams where negative effects of predicted climate change, including reduced stream flow and increased risk of catastrophic fires, may further jeopardize their persistence....Sedell, Edwin R; Gresswell, Bob; McMahon, Thomas E.
Quantifying the adaptive cycle
The adaptive cycle was proposed as a conceptual model to portray patterns of change in complex systems. Despite the model having potential for elucidating change across systems, it has been used mainly as a metaphor, describing system dynamics qualitatively. We use a quantitative approach for testing premises (reorganisation, conservatism,...Angeler, David G.; Allen, Craig R.; Garmestani, Ahjond S.; Gunderson, Lance H.; Hjerne, Olle; Winder, Monika
Dim ultraviolet light as a means of deterring activity by the Hawaiian hoary bat Lasiurus cinereus semotus
Widespread bat fatalities at industrial wind turbines are a conservation issue with the potential to inhibit efficient use of an abundant source of energy. Bat fatalities can be reduced by altering turbine operations, but such curtailment decreases turbine efficiency. If additional ways of reducing bat fatalities at wind turbines were available...Gorresen, P. Marcos; Cryan, Paul M.; Dalton, David C.; Wolf, Sandy; Johnson, Jessica A.; Todd, Christopher M.; Bonaccorso, Frank J.
Shaping species with ephemeral boundaries: The distribution and genetic structure of desert tortoise (Gopherus morafkai) in the Sonoran Desert region
Aim We examine the role biogeographical features played in the evolution of Morafka's desert tortoise (Gopherus morafkai) and test the hypothesis that G. morafkai maintains genetically distinct lineages associated with different Sonoran Desert biomes. Increased knowledge of the past and present distribution of the Sonoran Desert...Edwards, Taylor; Vaughn, Mercy; Rosen, Philip C.; Torres, Ma. Cristina Melendez; Karl, Alice E.; Culver, Melanie; Murphy, Robert W.
Incorporating future change into current conservation planning: Evaluating tidal saline wetland migration along the U.S. Gulf of Mexico coast under alternative sea-level rise and urbanization scenarios
In this study, the U.S. Geological Survey, in cooperation with the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, quantified the potential for landward migration of tidal saline wetlands along the U.S. Gulf of Mexico coast under alternative future sea-level rise and urbanization scenarios. Our analyses focused exclusively on tidal saline wetlands (that is,...Enwright, Nicholas M.; Griffith, Kereen T.; Osland, Michael J.
Fire activity as a function of fire–weather seasonal severity and antecedent climate across spatial scales in southern Europe and Pacific western USA
Climate has a strong influence on fire activity, varying across time and space. We analyzed the relationships between fire–weather conditions during the main fire season and antecedent water-balance conditions and fires in two Mediterranean-type regions with contrasted management histories: five southern countries of the European Union (...Urbieta, Itziar R.; Zavala, Gonzalo; Bedia, Joaquin; Gutierrez, Jose M.; San Miguel-Ayanz, Jesus; Camia, Andrea; Keeley, Jon E.; Moreno, Jose M.
Recent Arctic tundra fire initiates widespread thermokarst development
Fire-induced permafrost degradation is well documented in boreal forests, but the role of fires in initiating thermokarst development in Arctic tundra is less well understood. Here we show that Arctic tundra fires may induce widespread thaw subsidence of permafrost terrain in the first seven years following the disturbance. Quantitative analysis...Jones, Benjamin M.; Grosse, Guido; Arp, Christopher D.; Miller, Eric K.; Liu, Lingli; Hayes, Daniel J.; Larsen, Christopher F.
Woodland salamander responses to a shelterwood harvest-prescribed burn silvicultural treatment within Appalachian mixed-oak forests
Forest management practices that mimic natural canopy disturbances, including prescribed fire and timber harvests, may reduce competition and facilitate establishment of favorable vegetative species within various ecosystems. Fire suppression in the central Appalachian region for almost a century has contributed to a transition from oak-dominated...Ford, W. Mark; Mahoney, Kathleen R.; Russell, Kevin R.; Rodrigue, Jane L.; Riddle, Jason D.; Schuler, Thomas M.; Adams, Mary Beth
Researchers have deployed 24 external GPS transmitters to male alligators in South Carolina. Alligators are territorial -- an individual’s movements may be influenced by other alligators in close proximity. Alligators are territorial -- an individual’s movements may be influenced by other alligators in close proximity.
Alligator transmitter installation and recovery. Pictured: Abby Lawson, Thomas Rainwater, John Lane (Wofford College), and Erin Weeks (South Carolina Department of Natural Resources).
Dissected guano pellet showing antennae, eyes, and body fragments of midges.
USGS and other scientists have studied in-depth alligator populations in Florida and Louisiana, but basic ecological knowledge is lacking for populations at the northern edge of their range. For example, differences in climate and habitat between the southern and northern portions of the range limit the applicability of findings from other studies to South Carolina alligator management....
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...
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. Near Dutch Harbor in the Aleutian Islands, Alaska
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 ...
Invasive black and white tegu lizards (Salvator merianae). USGS is working on development of tools for the detection and capture of invasive reptiles in Florida.
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...
Interviews with staff at Point Reyes National Seashore tell how this National Park Service unit uses USGS science to educate visitors, and manage the park.
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
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
"It’s a grand slam for all involved,” said Dawn Childs, USGS Cooperative Fish and Wildlife Research Units. “Recent high school graduates with special needs get real-world experience while helping USGS scientists on projects ranging from grizzly bears and energy to historic documents and bird migration. And a school system gets to successfully train students to enter the workforce."
Caribou, North America’s wild reindeer, have lives apart from their famous role on Christmas Eve. Reindeer and caribou are large, cold-adapted, herding herbivores related to deer, elk and moose.
To learn more about how these arctic antler-bearers spend the other 364 days of the year, we talked to USGS caribou expert Dr. Layne Adams, who has studied these animals for more than 30 years.
Upper Midwest and Great Lakes Landscape Conservation Cooperative Launches Coastal Wetland Decision Support Tools
Perhaps some of you have already experienced a sweet smooch or two under the holiday mistletoe, enjoying this fairly old kissing ritual for people. While figuring prominently in ancient lore, mistletoe is important in other vital ways: it provides essential food, cover and nesting sites for an amazing number of critters. In fact, some animals couldn’t even survive without mistletoe.