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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The Challenge: Many critical wildlife surveys, such as the North American Breeding Bird Survey (BBS), are analyzed using complex hierarchical models. These models are generally multi-scale and contain random effects; the standard approaches to model selection and assessment of model fit are often inappropriate and no simple way exists to compare alternative models. However, a clear need exists...
The Challenge: Over the last half of the 20th century, the breeding range of American black duck (Anas rubripes) has contracted from central Canada and the Northeastern United States toward eastern Canada. This reduction in size of the breeding range has been reflected in a steady decline of black ducks counted during winter surveys, both the midwinter Waterfowl Survey conducted by the U. S....
The Challenge: Population status information is required for management of migratory bird populations, and structured decision making and adaptive anagement place additional emphasis on the need for rigorous survey designs and robust estimation methods. The North American Breeding Bird Survey (BBS) and Christmas Bird Count (CBC) provide continent-scale information on breeding and wintering...
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 of locations where species...
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 population...
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 the job does not...
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.
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...
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,...
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...
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/.
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,...
Effects of land use on greenhouse gas fluxes and soil properties of wetland catchments in the Prairie Pothole Region of North America
Wetland restoration has been suggested as policy goal with multiple environmental benefits including enhancement of atmospheric carbon sequestration. However, there are concerns that increased methane (CH4) emissions associated with restoration may outweigh potential benefits. A comprehensive, 4-year study of 119 wetland catchments was conducted...Tangen, Brian A.; Finocchiaro, Raymond G.; Gleason, Robert A.
Increasing elevation of fire in the Sierra Nevada and implications for forest change
Fire in high-elevation forest ecosystems can have severe impacts on forest structure, function and biodiversity. Using a 105-year data set, we found increasing elevation extent of fires in the Sierra Nevada, and pose five hypotheses to explain this pattern. Beyond the recognized pattern of increasing fire frequency in the Sierra Nevada since the...Schwartz, Mark W.; Butt, Nathalie; Dolanc, Christopher R.; Holguin, Andrew; Moritz, Max A.; North, Malcolm P.; Safford, Hugh D.; Stephenson, Nathan L.; Thorne, James H.; van Mantgem, Phillip J.
Using satellite vegetation and compound topographic indices to map highly erodible cropland buffers for cellulosic biofuel crop developments in eastern Nebraska, USA
Cultivating annual row crops in high topographic relief waterway buffers has negative environmental effects and can be environmentally unsustainable. Growing perennial grasses such as switchgrass (Panicum virgatum L.) for biomass (e.g., cellulosic biofuel feedstocks) instead of annual row crops in these high relief waterway buffers can...Gu, Yingxin; Wylie, Bruce K.
High-tech or field techs: Radio-telemetry is a cost-effective method for reducing bias in songbird nest searching
We compared the efficacy of standard nest-searching methods with finding nests via radio-tagged birds to assess how search technique influenced our determination of nest-site characteristics and nest success for Golden-winged Warblers (Vermivora chrysoptera). We also evaluated the cost-effectiveness of using radio-tagged birds to find nests. Using...Peterson, Sean M.; Streby, Henry M.; Lehman, Justin A.; Kramer, Gunnar R.; Fish, Alexander C.; Andersen, David E.
Delineation of marsh types from Corpus Christi Bay, Texas, to Perdido Bay, Alabama, in 2010
Coastal zone managers and researchers often require detailed information regarding emergent marsh vegetation types (that is, fresh, intermediate, brackish, and saline) for modeling habitat capacities and needs of marsh dependent taxa (such as waterfowl and alligator). Detailed information on the extent and distribution of emergent marsh vegetation...Enwright, Nicholas M.; Hartley, Stephen B.; Couvillion, Brady R.; Michael G. Brasher; Jenneke M. Visser; Michael K. Mitchell; Bart M. Ballard; Mark W. Parr; Barry C. Wilson
When do we need more data? A primer on calculating the value of information for applied ecologists
Applied ecologists continually advocate further research, under the assumption that obtaining more information will lead to better decisions. Value of information (VoI) analysis can be used to quantify how additional information may improve management outcomes: despite its potential, this method is still underused in environmental decision-making...Canessa, Stefano; Guillera-Arroita, Gurutzeta; Lahoz-Monfort, José J.; Southwell, Darren M; Armstrong, Doug P.; Chadès, Iadine; Lacy, Robert C; Converse, Sarah J.
Rapid water quality change in the Elwha River estuary complex during dam removal
Dam removal in the United States is increasing as a result of structural concerns, sedimentation of reservoirs, and declining riverine ecosystem conditions. The removal of the 32 m Elwha and 64 m Glines Canyon dams from the Elwha River in Washington, U.S.A., was the largest dam removal project in North American history. During the 3 yr of dam...Foley, Melissa M.; Duda, Jeffrey J.; Beirne, Matthew M.; Paradis, Rebecca; Ritchie, Andrew; Warrick, Jonathan A.
Estimating the abundance of the Southern Hudson Bay polar bear subpopulation with aerial surveys
The Southern Hudson Bay (SH) polar bear subpopulation occurs at the southern extent of the species’ range. Although capture–recapture studies indicate abundance was likely unchanged between 1986 and 2005, declines in body condition and survival occurred during the period, possibly foreshadowing a future decrease in abundance. To obtain...Obbard, Martyn E.; Stapleton, Seth P.; Middel, Kevin R.; Thibault, Isabelle; Brodeur, Vincent; Jutras, Charles
Statistical guidelines for assessing marine avian hotspots and coldspots: A case study on wind energy development in the U.S. Atlantic Ocean
Estimating patterns of habitat use is challenging for marine avian species because seabirds tend to aggregate in large groups and it can be difficult to locate both individuals and groups in vast marine environments. We developed an approach to estimate the statistical power of discrete survey events to identify species-specific hotspots and...Zipkin, Elise F.; Kinlan, Brian P.; Sussman, Allison; Rypkema, Diana; Wimer, Mark; O'Connell, Allan F.
A collision risk model to predict avian fatalities at wind facilities: an example using golden eagles, Aquila chrysaetos
Wind power is a major candidate in the search for clean, renewable energy. Beyond the technical and economic challenges of wind energy development are environmental issues that may restrict its growth. Avian fatalities due to collisions with rotating turbine blades are a leading concern and there is considerable uncertainty surrounding avian...New, Leslie; Bjerre, Emily; Millsap, Brian A.; Otto, Mark C.; Runge, Michael C.
Monitoring population status of sea otters (Enhydra lutris) in Glacier Bay National Park and Preserve, Alaska: options and considerations
After many decades of absence from southeast Alaska, sea otters (Enhydra lutris) are recolonizing parts of their former range, including Glacier Bay, Alaska. Sea otters are well known for structuring nearshore ecosystems and causing community-level changes such as increases in kelp abundance and changes in the size and number of other consumers....Esslinger, George; Esler, Daniel N.; Howlin, S.; Starcevich, L.A.
Two tickets to paradise: multiple dispersal events in the founding of hoary bat populations in Hawai'i
The Hawaiian islands are an extremely isolated oceanic archipelago, and their fauna has long served as models of dispersal in island biogeography. While molecular data have recently been applied to investigate the timing and origin of dispersal events for several animal groups including birds, insects, and snails, these questions have been largely...Russell, Amy L.; Pinzari, Corinna A.; Vonhof, Maarten J.; Olival, Kevin J.; Bonaccorso, Frank
Understanding Disease Outbreaks in Populations of Wild Marine Fishes
As coastal development along the Gulf Coast continues to expand, tidal saline wetlands could have difficulty adjusting to rising sea levels.
Roughly over a quarter of the golden eagles killed at the Altamont Pass Wind Resource Area in Northern California from 2012-2014 were recent immigrants to the local population, according to research led by the U.S. Geological Survey.
Burmese pythons have been found on Key Largo.
SANTA CRUZ, California — The southern sea otter, Enhydra lutris nereis, continues its climb toward recovery, according to the annual count released today by the U.S. Geological Survey and partners.
Mercury contamination is widespread, at various levels across western North America in air, soil, sediment, plants, fish and wildlife.
A recent study looks at the impact of climate change on certain fish in Wisconsin lakes.
Kauai Island forest birds at tipping point toward extinction
Mesocosms Give Us the Fish-eye View into the Lives and Deaths of Endangered Suckers
USGS and the Vietnam Biodiversity Conservation Agency partner to protect the biodiversity of Vietnam.
FORT ecologist, Ellis Margolis, spoke with a reporter from the Albuquerque Journal on August 19, 2016 about a new fire history project in the Taos Valley Watersheds, New Mexico.